2014 National Book Award Longlist, Poetry


Roget's Illusion by Linda Bierds Linda Bierds, photo credit Rockefeller Foundation

Roget’s Illusion

G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ Penguin Group (USA)

ISBN: 978-0399165467


He is best known for his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, but among filmmakers Roget is better known for his explanation of the optical illusion that still bedevils them: Why does a wheel moving forward always seem on film to be running backward? For Linda Bierds, the illusion also refers to our relationship to language, to our belief that words hold something more than their definitions. Why do we strive to articulate the world even as we know this is a shifting and illusory pursuit? Why do we continue to seek perfection, pursue beauty, yearn for immortality? Roget’s Illusion offers no answer. It simply shows the striving.


Linda Bierds is the Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor in the Humanities at the University of Washington. Her books include Flights of the Harvest-Mare; The Stillness, the Dancing; Heart and Perimeter; The Ghost Trio, The Profile Makers, The Seconds, and First Hand. She was a National Book Awards Poetry Judge in 2007, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Artist Trust Foundation of Washington and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 1998 she was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.


Photo credit: Rockefeller Foundation