Thursday, November 21, 2013
mary szybist portrait
Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist, alumna of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, received the 2013 National Book Award for poetry for her most recent collection, Incarnadine.

Szybist accepted the award during a ceremony Nov. 20 in Manhattan, N.Y.

Through the lens of an iconic moment—the Annunciation of an unsettling angel to a bodily young woman—Szybist describes the confusion and even terror of moments in which our longing for the spiritual may also be a longing for what is most fundamentally alien to us. In a world where we are so often asked to choose sides, to believe or not believe, to embrace or reject, Incarnadine offers lyrical and brilliantly inventive alternatives.

Read an interview with Szybist on the National Book Award website.

Szybist earned degrees from the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. Her first collection of poetry, Granted, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2009, she won a Witter Bynner Fellowship. According to judge Kay Ryan, Syzbist’s “lovely musical touch is light and exact enough to catch the weight and grind of love. This is a hard paradox to master as she does.”

Szybist is also the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review and Denver Quarterly and was featured in Best American Poetry (2008). She is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a graduate program in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.