Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Book Awards

Winning his second Pulitzer Prize for a new collection, The Shadow of Sirius, poet W.S. Merwin said he was pleased and that the book was "a happy accident." He described it as having a first section about childhood and remembering childhood, “not from a distance, but from inside.” The middle section is a collection of elegies to dogs, and the final section is about later life. Publisher's Weekly called it his best book in a decade. So if you're a Merwin fan, place an order now.

Speaking of big poetry prizes, the National Book Award for poetry went to Mark Doty for Fire to Fire. Powell Books describes Doty's work as encompassing "both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought." Doty is one of the few major poets who blogs, posting beautifully wrought and accessible essays on the art and his life in it, is eminently readable and re-readable, universal in speech and subject. I think that speaks to his sense of equality in poetry. I find his poems compelling and deep-reaching, with a great chance of being work we'll be reading in hundreds of years. (For those of you who subscribe to the idea of reincarnation, you might enjoy the "we" in that sentence.)

I wonder how many big book award winning books will be around that long. Do we care? The poetry we love finds its way to us in some mysterious fashion, often through anthologies, the Internet, zines and litmags that themselves don't last long - just long enough. I always consider it fortuitous to discover a poet I really like, and can follow. And I really don't care for reviews, they help almost not at all in this quest. Nor do book awards, usually.


  1. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Hi, Rachel,

    I have been following and enjoying your work for quite some time. Haven't bought your books yet cuz I'm a tight-purse and now there's a credit crunch on and all my assets are crunching.

    Mark Doty is also one of my fave poets. Must re-visit.

    JAIMESALSOP· ISBN-10: 0976195402
    · ISBN-13: 978-0976195405
    · Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches

    If that link did not work go to and click on books, type in Jaimes Alsop as the author; legally speaking he is described as the editor under the authorship of Alsopreview Publishers.

    Does anyone wonder why was supposedly hacked and took a hard smacking from some unscrupulous (Chinese) hacking club?

    Well, it looks as if Jaimes Alsop has legal digital rights to the copyright of the entire website (including the workshopped poems). He has reproduced selected poems for the Anthology Number One. Presumably there will follow an Anthology Number Two, followed by an Anthology Three and Four, which will probably include your workshopped poems. He has legal entitlement as long as he accredits said poems with your names and pseudonyms. It will be interesting to see if any of these authors receive any monetary reward for their literary endeavors. I surmise that there will be very little surplus after the publishing expenses and admin/labour (copy and paste is very hard work y’know) fees have been claimed.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    Glad to know you're reading and thanks for the compliment. Crunching assets, I know what you mean!

    We don't know why AR was hacked, but we will be back soon. They're working on rebuilding the site and launching it anew, I'm told. Around early May.

    I didn't know Anthology One had an Amazon page, but I'm happy to find out. Just because Jaimes is listed as editor doesn't give him digital (or any other) rights to things either in the anthology or workshopped on the site. E-rights are a vague and mushy legal area, but I know a little about print copyrights from publishing books. My lawyer says that rights are like an onion, you can peel and still have rights left. Anthology One used reprint rights, but those remain with the author, typically. I didn't sign anything giving away my reprint rights, either electronic or print, so they remain with me for work printed in the anthology. AR has the right to reprint the entire anthology, but I doubt that's going to happen.

    I doubt there will be a Two, Three or Four. The AR is run by a different crew now, with Jaimes far in the background. We have no funds for print ventures, and doubt we will in future. The press really doesn't exist anymore, and was a brief phenomenon. Hope that helps explain things.