In nineteen ninety-three
I was up for the NBA in
      poetry. From the first day,
when I reckoned up the judges
      and nominees, I claimed
A. R. Ammons would win the award.
      Nevertheless, he won it.
When Archie walked past our table
      toward the stage, I reached for
his hand and shook it like a good sport.
      At the reception, the judges
one after another dropped their eyes
      and said my stuff
was terrific. I went to sleep easily,
      mildly let down, and woke
at three-thirty in murderous rage.

      Three hours later, sleeping
for twenty minutes on the shuttle,
      I reasoned with myself:
“Why should anyone win some contest?
      Who, for instance? When did winning
an award mean you were good?
      The Pulitzer Prize?
Don’t be an ass. The fox is sensible.
      Grow up. Go home. Take a shower.
Sit at your desk, and, as the kids
      in high school said
with sarcasm, ‘Go write a poem about it.’”

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 13 Number 5, on page 38
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion |