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Archive for the 'Poetry Madness' Category

Poetry Madness: Round Three Recap

No one would say that Round Three of Poetry Madness was easy. Yeats showed the invisible scars of battle when he surveyed the damage done in his quest for Round Four and cried out: "I sing what was lost and dread what was won."

Showing none of Yeats's turmoil, the indefatigable Emily Dickinson pushed a damp lock of hair behind her ear and — without even glancing at Sylvia Plath, who lay weeping in the corner — strode briskly into her spot in the Elite Eight, calling out to her trembling new opponent:

How many bullets bearest?
The royal scar hast thou?
Angels, write 'Promoted'
On this soldier's brow!

In the Living, Mary Oliver proved that she would fight A Thousand Mornings if it meant making it to the Championship round, thrashing Anne Carson in the process. Rita Dove bested Li-Young Lee, ensuring that, at least tonight, Lee would be Eating Alone.

On our home turf, Roethke informed fellow Pacific Northwest poet Mary Szybist that "death of the self in a long, tearless night" would be the only thing stopping him from facing off against Tess Gallagher in the next bout. Baudelaire voiced his desire to ...


Poetry Madness: Round Two Recap

For a few tense days, the aisles of Powells.com were silent. No one spoke; no one whispered; no one dared interrupt the fearsome competition that was unfolding in Round Two of Poetry Madness. Sure, it was easy to be distracted by the swagger of Neruda and Rilke. With their intentions clearly aimed at a Round Three matchup, the duo left their Round Two contenders in the dust.

In almost all of the other matchups, while each of the poets showed flashes of brilliance, none ever hit their stride. But toward the end of Round Three, it became clear that this round would be dominated by the ladies. Anne Carson, Sylvia Plath, Rita Dove, Mary Oliver, Mary Szybist, Tess Gallagher, Anna Akhmatova, and Emily Dickinson all advanced in a series of tough wins. Breathless, her white gown slightly translucent with sweat, Dickinson wrestled Walt Whitman to the ground and into a Damascus head-leglock. When the final bell rang, she raised her fists in the air and screamed:

I'm "wife" — I've finished that —
That other state —
I'm Czar — I'm "Woman" now —

In the end, it was Auden who disappeared in the dead of ...


Poetry Madness: Round One Recap

Right out of the gate, Mary Oliver began laying waste to Billy Collins, with 75% of the vote, building what would become an insurmountable lead. Among the living, Oliver made it clear that she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her one precious life — crush the competition. And yet, it was Anne Carson, in her quiet, Canadian way that claimed the strongest lead of the group. Poor Jorie Graham could only be satisfied in defeat by The Dream of the Unified Field. After that first grueling day, we knew that this was no ordinary bracket.

The votes came pouring in over the weekend. Across the field, poets were engaged in epic battles, with tight races in all four categories. But in the "In Translation" corner of the bracket, it was time for fans of Nicanor Parra to GET REAL, ahem, GET RILKE! In this contest, there was only one common language: bloodlust. Proving she didn't have anything to lose in translation, Anna Akhmatova trounced Paul Celan From Threshold to Threshold.

We'd expected Theodore Roethke and Richard Hugo to be clawing their way to the finish, but the matchup was rather ...


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