What is your favorite National Book Critics Circle winner or finalist of all time? The first NBCC winners, honored in 1975 for books published in 1974, were E.L. Doctorow (Ragtime, fiction), John Ashbery (Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, poetry), R.W.B. Lewis for his biography of Edith Wharton, and Paul Fussell (The Great War and Modern Memory, criticism). In 2014 the National Book Critics Circle prepares to celebrate nearly forty years of the best work selected by the critics themselves, and also to launch the new John Leonard award for first book. So we're looking back at the winners and finalists, all archived on our website, and we've asked our members and former honorees to pick a favorite. Here's the second of dozens of choices in our latest in six years of NBCC Reads surveys. Elizabeth Bishop's Geography III (1977), an NBCC finalist, included her widely anthologized poem “One Art.”
I have taught Elizabeth Bishop's “One Art” to generation of freshmen at Indiana University and still find it such a brilliant imaginative feat that helps students (and me) come to terms with losses big and small so I vote for Elizabeth Bishop.