The Poetry Prize
Photography by Ken Yee
I was a micro-celebrity on campus. It is comforting to people to know that the poet among them is not a fraud, and to have that knowledge gifted without the burden of having to actually read poems. For who can tell whether a poem is good or not? I wished my mom were alive. Prizes are, my household decided, “for moms and deans.” I am not impervious to either, and I am driven—though by what labyrinthine contortions of my psyche I know not—to want to please both.
In the end, the death of this moneyed dream led to an unmixed good: a reaffirmation of my commitment to poetry. In camp-honored Gloria Gaynor fashion, I returned from my sojourn in the fantastical land of “what ifs” to find myself ensconced in the place of true happiness: the humble now of daily routine and fierce private willfulness, surrounded by my trove of seemingly insignificant objects and books, all those things which hold in trust my memories and desires, calling forth through their powers the muse-drawn language of the next poem.