John Shoptaw, author of Times Beach, received the 2016 Northern California Book Award in Poetry. Shoptaw teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and published an earlier book of criticism titled On the Outside Looking Out: John Ashbery’s Poetry. Times Beach received the Notre Dame Review Book Prize in 2015. Robert Hass, poet laureate of the United States (1995–1997) and author of The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems, said: “Times Beach is, like most interesting American books, an original. It’s about a place, the watershed of the Mississippi River, and it is an ecopoetics. Best, perhaps, to think of it as a hybrid of Hart Crane, the depression photographs of Dorothea Lange, and a nineteenth-century lantern show—they called them ‘panoramas’—of the human and environmental history of our mightiest river system. It comes from a deep sense of the rhythms and dialect of a place and from a deeply literary and inventive imagination.”
The 35th annual Northern California Book Awards were held on May 15, 2016, at Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco. The awards recognize Northern California authors and their best books of 2015. The nominated books in the Poetry category included: Practicing the Truth by Ellery Akers; Alkali Sink by Stella Beratlis; Red Epic by Joshua Clover; Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera; and This Present Moment by Gary Snyder. Winning authors read briefly from the winning books. A book signing and reception followed the awards ceremony.