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dumbfoundry

Poetry news, poetry blogs, poetry magazines, poetry journals, poetry sites, poetry links, etc.

Medal Fatigue [USA]:
[...]I AM proud - but also deeply humbled - to deliver this unofficial and unsolicited reminder that next Wednesday, Nov. 16, the National Book Awards will be distributed in New York City. (I know! I can hardly wait, either.) These awards will, as always, add incomparable and well-deserved luster to the reputations of the lucky - that is to say, the absolutely worthy and painstakingly chosen - winners, and also reveal the vibrancy and diversity of American literary endeavor in all its forms. (All four of its forms, that is, since that is how many categories the N.B.A. has these days. Sometimes there have been as many as 27, sometimes as few as two. But now there are four: fiction, nonfiction, "young people's literature" and poetry.)

Or, to put it another way, the prizes, transparently trivial, implicitly corrupt and utterly detached from any meaningful notion of literary value, will be greeted with cynicism, derision and, if we're lucky, a burst of controversy. It will escape no one's attention - not even the winners' - that the very idea of handing out medals and cash for aesthetic and intellectual achievement is absurd, if not obscene. Furthermore, the selections will inevitably reflect the rottenness of the literary status quo, which is either hopelessly stodgy and out of touch, or else distracted by modish extraliterary considerations - hobbled, that is, either by conservative complacency or by political correctness. As if that weren't bad enough, the N.B.A.'s will force upon the public the startling revelation that book publishing is a commercial enterprise. Unless of course they uphold the idealistic principle that it isn't. Anyway, the winners will be the obvious choices, authors who have already won plenty of prizes and acclaim, in which case what's the point? (Does John Ashbery really need another medal to accompany the N.B.A., the Pulitzer and the National Book Critics Circle Award he won for "Self-Portrait in a Convex-Mirror"?) Either that, or the winners will be people nobody outside a tiny elite has ever heard of (Vern Rutsala? René Steinke?), in which case . . . well, see above. [...]
From the N.B.A. site:
Poetry

John Ashbery, Where Shall I Wander (Ecco)

Frank Bidart, Star Dust: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Brendan Galvin, Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005
(Louisiana State University Press)

W.S. Merwin, Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)

Vern Rutsala, The Moment’s Equation (Ashland Poetry Press)
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