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UConn professor finalist for National Book Award

Marilyn Nelson, a professor of English, is among five finalists for this year's National Book Award for poetry. She is a nominee for The Fields of Praise, a collection of new and selected poems published by Louisiana State University Press.

Nelson, who said she was honored to be one of the finalists, noted that the poems range from works that she had written as an undergraduate to recent poetry. "It is my life's work so far," she said.

Nelson likened the National Book Award to the Academy Awards - "probably with the Pulitzer, the closest equivalent we have," she said.

She gives credit to her best friend Pamela Espeland, who edited the book. "She was the major force behind its organization," Nelson said.

Nelson, who has been at UConn since 1978, is the author of eight books and monographs. Her book The Homeplace, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1991. Her other books include Mama's Promises and Magnificat. She received the Annisfeld-Wolf Award for poetry in 1992, and held a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship in France in 1995.

Winners of the award will be announced Nov. 18 in New York.

Sherry Fisher