UC Santa Cruz literature professor Nathaniel Mackey wins National Book Award

UC Santa Cruz literature professor Nathaniel Mackey has received a 2006 National Book Award in the poetry category for his latest book, "Splay Anthem." The winners were announced last night at a benefit ceremony hosted by writer Fran Lebowitz at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

Nathaniel Mackey
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The awards are presented annually by the National Book Foundation. Finalists were selected by four panels of judges who were asked to choose the best books of the year from nearly 13,000 entries submitted by publishers.

As a poet, literary critic, fiction writer, and journal editor, Mackey has produced a wide variety of work over the past 27 years that has earned him national and international recognition. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including "Four for Trane," "Septet for the End of Time," "Outlantish," and "Song of the Andoumboulou," which are widely regarded as among the most innovative examples of contemporary American experimental writing.

Mackey's 1985 poetry book, "Eroding Witness," was selected for publication in the National Poetry Series. He received a Whiting Writer's Award in 1993 and was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2001, one of the highest honors in the field of poetry. He was also selected by faculty members to deliver the 39th annual Faculty Research Lecture at UC Santa Cruz last February in recognition of his "extraordinary accomplishments in many fields of scholarly and creative activity."

Mackey's two volumes of literary criticism include "Paracritical Hinge," published last year by the University of Wisconsin Press, and "Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing" (Cambridge University Press, 1993). For the past 30 years, Mackey has also single-handedly served as editor of the literary journal "Hambone," which brings together diverse strands of innovative work from both established and emerging writers.

Known as an authority on the relations between African and African American music and writing, Mackey has edited an influential anthology, "Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose" (1993), and produced a poetry CD in collaboration with contemporary jazz musicians. He has also completed three novels in a series titled "From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate"--composed as letters written by a composer/multi-instrumentalist named N, a founding member of a fictional band known as the Mystic Horn Society. His longtime radio program on Santa Cruz public radio station KUSP, "Tanganyika Strut," continues to spotlight African music throughout the world.

Mackey graduated with high honors in English from Princeton University in 1969 and completed his Ph.D at Stanford. He taught at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Southern California, where he directed the Black Studies Program, before joining the UCSC faculty in 1979.