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November 25, 2011


My own opinion is that the name is far too gimmicky and difficult to remember. The Coconut Poetry Award seems a more straightforwardly sensible option. Also the prizes are extremely low. $100 total prize money reflects the seriousness many will ascribe to, not only yourself, but the entire 'prize' project. When unemployed I managed to put $800 into a poetry competition I set up, so surely someone in full time employment could rustle upa bit more.

My advice is that you'd be better off offering to give the $20 prizes to charities nominated by the winners'. At least this way you can market it as something set up to celebrate poetry and not the financial rewarding of a 'lucky' five.

Also there are far too many poets in the anthology. 100 poets? There's not 100 poets in the English speaking world writing 'excellent' (in the real sense of that word) poetry today. The best 100 poems of a year maybe, which then shifts the emphasis from elevating mediocre po-biz poet slebs, to celebrating poems themselves.

Good luck.

I wonder if a Kickstarter campaign to raise prize money would work (though I don't think the prize money is too low - it's the prize that counts!).
I do like this idea though . . .
Marissa Despain

Hi Kevin and Marissa,

Thanks for your comments! Kevin, I absolutely meant the name to be gimmicky, over-the-top, and difficult to remember. I also intended the dollar amount to be absurdly low. The point of my post was that we as informed readers and editors and poets have the right to create new awards if we feel particular poets or poetic communities are under-represented by the current award/anthology system, along the lines of what David did so many years ago in creating Best American Poetry. I'm sorry if the irony didn't come through more clearly.

That said, I'm serious about the awards themselves and their selection processes. I, however, am not uniquely equipped to create an alternative award or anthology--my post was, in essence, a suggestion that, if necessary, we create new means of recognizing deserving poets, rather than criticizing existing selection processes.

In the meantime, please send me some nominations?



I totally agree with your interpretation of anthologies as conversation starters. For me, BAP, for example, annually functions like a new theory of the U.S. poetry cosmos. David Bohm, the physicist, has asserted that no unified field theory that reconciles conflicting theories will emerge, but instead, each theory offers a particular kind of insight, a lens through which to look. Anywho, the BAPs and any good anthology feels for me like another new theory of not everything but a very thing.

Let us all love the way you get in the game and actively participate. I love the great fun of your title and think the $20 sum reflects not only irony but also invites everyone to set up their own awards.

A good many anyones could come up with say $100 for 5 poets annually or gift otherwise than money for an award of their own choosing. One might create a prize and then simply make, with the author's permission, broadsides of the poems and distribute them. Or baked goods. Knitted scarves. Graffiti. Whatev and ever and ay yay there! The irony deflates the monumentality and invites a new theory of a very thing. Thanks for the initiative and inspiration!

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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