Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today I read of a certain esteemed poetry foundation/academy/institution (I'll keep them anonymous for their sake and mine) which just awarded several young poets cash awards as seed money to further launch their careers. The amount to each budding bard was a cool $15,000. Yes, $15,000. As a poet myself, I am a little bewildered about how one would spend this cash cow newly grazing in one's purse. The notice of the winners mentioned that the money could be spent in any way. So, established is a poetry prize for which poetry is not the primum mobile of the endowment.

Were I to construct a poetry-financial portfolio, I should invest in gold-enameled pens, red carpets in every room of my apartment to feel as if I was "Versifier of the Year" (for every year), and perhaps subsidize my copious imagination which costs a lot in this dour day and augue-riddled Age. No, I'm frankly against money emollients for poets unless to aid the aged, the infirmed, or for those encountering recent financial or existential difficulties. Although conceptually more money in the midden might seem a saintly arrangement, especially by some of the hand-to-mouth word-mavens I know (I'm not on the poverty line but I see it slicing across the stanza-steppes and poesy-plains), it would institutionalize the work and I never see such cosseting or incarceration (which is it?) as salubrious to craft. Recall Samuel "Dictionary" Johnson's rejoinder to his faux patron, Lord Chesterfield, and be cautious of transactions with Moloch. J/C