Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Poets kick novelist butt

Work is swamping me at present, so I offer something amusing I found on the web recently, from one of those irritatingly talented New Yorker writers, Rebecca Mead. When you’re a man’s man working in the unclaimed wilderness of the American social-realist novel, what’s the worst thing that could happen to your self esteem?

“There are very few places in America where it can be claimed definitively that poets kick ass, and one of them is the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference … This was amply demonstrated at this year's poets-versus-fiction-writers football game, a regular fixture in which those who traffic in metre and rhyme go head to head on the Bread Loaf meadow with crafters of experimental, semi-autobiographical narratives.

Granted, the poets had the advantage of including among their number Matt Miller, an aspiring writer of lyric verse who happened to have been a defensive starter at Yale five years ago. They also enjoyed a fine showing from their quarterback, a gangly twenty-nine-year-old named Spencer Short, whose recently published d├ębut collection, "Tremolo," brings to mind both T. S. Eliot and McSweeney's ("One need only stand in the aisle / marked Produce to understand how the wan light / obscuring the bruised fruit makes all / of our decisions more difficult"). …

"We totally owned the game" was the verdict delivered later that evening by one of the poets, an earnest young man named Chad Reynolds, who teaches English to eighth graders in Cincinnati, and has not yet decided whether to publish under Chad, Charles, or C. L. Reynolds. The literary-fiction writers were crushed. It's humiliating enough to be beaten; but how much more humiliating to be beaten by the only genre that generates even lower book sales than yours.”

- copyright 2001, Rebecca Mead

Check out the full story over here.

Ah, writers and sport. All strangely reminiscent of “The Tournament”.

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