Described as “part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper,” Nathaniel Mackey’s book Splay Anthem has won the 2006 National Book Award for poetry.

Mackey, PhD ’75, is a professor of literature at UC-Santa Cruz and the author of seven other books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Song of the Andoumboulou. Splay Anthem (New Directions) was praised for its musical cadences. Mackey “brings the attitudes of free jazz and the reverberating patterns of West African ensemble music to the goals of the American encyclopedic long poem,” said Publishers Weekly.

Two other Stanford alumni were finalists in the annual competition sponsored by the National Book Foundation. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, ’94, was honored in nonfiction for Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (Knopf), his account of U.S. administration of post-invasion Iraq during his time as Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. James McMichael, PhD ’66, was a finalist in poetry for Capacity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), his sixth book.