As the first MTV decade came to a close and the fine arts struggled for survival, screenwriter Paul Rudnick hammered his own nail into the high-art coffin with the Spy Magazine article "It's Okay to Hate High Culture." Since then, the arts that Rudnick targeted — opera, poetry and ballet — have persevered, netting small numbers of passionate fans.
*Audio produced by Elaine Heinzman
Listen: 'Black Swan' by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Listen: 'The heavenly noise of domesticity murmurs in the kitchen: <i>clink</i>' by D.A. Powell
Listen: 'Death' by James Richardson
Listen: 'A Dent in a Bucket' by Gary Snyder
Listen: 'Baby Jackrabbit' by Gary Snyder
Listen: 'Five O'Clock, January 2003,' by Adrienne Rich
One such niche is the National Book Critics Circle, a group of critics that awards writers working in genres as varied as biography and young-adult fiction. In January, they announced the nominees for the 2004 awards — among them, five poets. The winners will be announced on March 18.
The finalists in the poetry category are: Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard; D.A. Powell, Cocktails; Adrienne Rich, The School Among the Ruins; James Richardson, Interglacial; and Gary Snyder, Danger on Peaks.
J.D. McClatchy teaches English at Yale University, and edits The Yale Review, a literary quarterly. He joins NPR's Sheilah Kast to talk through some of the nominated verse.