It is true that I have won a National Award. And that I was unanimously voted "most likely to grow a beard" as early as third grade. But all those honors pale in comparison to my recent stunning victory in a poetry contest, where the lead must have changed at least a dozen times before my poem closed things out with a seven vote performance in the last hour of voting.
As the winner of the what may have been most thrilling poetry contest to take place in America in several decades, I won a copy of Steven Peck's The Scholar of Moab (which I planned to have gilded as a trophy as soon as I finish reading it). But I also the praise of Jonathon Penny, Patricia Karamesines, and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, which is worth its weight, for a narcissist like me, in gold.
Check out the accolades, people:
not to like in James’ “Since he was weaned”? Spring may be delayed
here, and when it comes the fever breaks quietly, cumulatively. It is
never much more than implied in bones needing rest, and in the sullen,
housebound winterwork the father does. But he is, from the start,
infected with love and wonder, and the son for his part with that
urgency to Go! we all have carried in our bones, carry still if we are
blessed to: an impulse caught in winter worries (where there’s Winter)
and released, uncoiled, where there is Spring.
Patricia: Relationships. The world needs more
relationship poems as convincing as this one, and, of course, more poems
advocating kindness toward snakes. And as a reader, thus a participant
in James’ word-world, I felt the language welcome me to its story.
Jonathon speaks of the father becoming “infected” with love and wonder; “Since he was weaned” emanates simple, native magnetism that
likewise draws in the reader affectionately. I have a powerful,
sympathetic response to the boy’s whole-body hunger to launch himself
(with Papa’s company and aid) into that wider world. An authentic poem,
fully approachable yet artistically savvy.
Ghalib: My motto has always been, "If it doesn't make you cry blood out of your eyes, it isn't a real poem." But for a piece of prose which attempts to pawn itself off as poetic, I actually kinda liked it. There's some genuine longing and anguish here, even if there's a distinct paucity of despair and knife-in-the-heart-twisting humor. Hardly worth translation into Urdu, mind you, but not half-bad for English.