Buckdancer's Choice

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First edition
(publ. Wesleyan University Press)

Buckdancer's Choice (1965) is a collection of poems by James Dickey. It won the U.S. National Book Award for Poetry[1] in 1966 and the Melville Cane Award from the Poetry Society of America.[2]

The opening poem, "The Firebombing," relates a World War II pilot's memory of a night air raid on Beppu, Japan. The New York Times reviewer Joseph Bennett called it "one of the most important long poems written postwar."

In the poem "Buckdancer's Choice," the narrator listens as his mother, dying of emphysema in an adjacent room, whistles an old fiddle tune. The poem first appeared in The New Yorker for June 19, 1965, alongside "Hapworth 16, 1924", the last published story by J. D. Salinger.


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1966". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-26. (With essay by Patrick Rosal from the Award's 60-year anniversary blog.)
  2. ^ Bennett, Joseph (Feb 6, 1966). "A man with a voice". New York Times. 

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