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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 one-sided. In a prophetic statement from a 1976 interview with the Paris Review, James Dickey placed his bets on Roethke across the board, saying, "I don't see anyone else that has the kind of deep, gut vitality that Roethke's got. Whitman was a great poet, but he's no competition for Roethke." Despite a valiant effort, in the end Oregon poet laureate Paulann Petersen couldn't find A Bridge of Narrow Escape, and Matthew Dickman triumphed like a true All-American poet.

Emily Dickinson shyly, slyly crept up on T. S. Eliot, proving that sometimes the best way to win is a ribbon at a time. Robinson Jeffers did his damnedest to "Tor" up Allen Ginsberg, but it was good ol' Irwin who put the Beat down on Jeffers. And in a sweeping move that electrified the crowd, Sylvia Plath put a hurt on Anne Sexton that took her To Bedlam and Part Way Back.

We knew it would be a rowdy week, but who knew Neruda would slice into Rimbaud like a fleshy apple? Who could have guessed that Elizabeth Bishop would find the art of winning easy to master when she edged out Wallace Stevens by two itty bitty votes? And who knew that the competitive spirit in the Pacific Northwest was so fierce? (Answer: We did!)

The delirium continues with Round Two of Poetry Madness. Get in on the action now — voting ends April 16.

Round One Results:

Mary Oliver – 61.6%
Billy Collins – 38.4%

Louise Glück – 53.3%
W. S. Merwin – 46.7%

Anne Carson – 72.0%
Jorie Graham – 28.0%

Natasha Trethewey – 60.5%
Richard Blanco – 39.5%

Rita Dove – 58.3%
James Tate – 41.7%

Mary Jo Bang – 46.2%
Tony Hoagland – 53.8%

Derek Walcott – 48.0%
John Ashbery – 52.0%

Kevin Young – 36.1%
Li-Young Lee – 63.9%

T. S. Eliot – 44.4%
Emily Dickinson – 55.6%

e. e. cummings – 41.8%
Walt Whitman – 58.2%

Sylvia Plath – 57.9%
Anne Sexton – 42.1%

Robinson Jeffers – 31.4%
Allen Ginsberg – 68.6%

Wallace Stevens – 50.0%
Elizabeth Bishop – 50.0%

Lucille Clifton – 30.5%
Adrienne Rich – 69.5%

John Keats – 41.1%
W. B. Yeats – 58.9%

W. H. Auden – 84.2%
James Dickey – 15.5%

In Translation
Anna Akhmatova – 61.3%
Paul Celan – 38.7%

Adonis – 24.6%
Wislawa Szymborska – 75.4%

Fernando Pessoa – 26.0%
Czeslaw Milosz – 74.0%

Joseph Brodsky – 36.3%
Charles Baudelaire – 63.7%

Rainer Maria Rilke – 91.3%
Nicanor Parra – 8.7%

Constantine P. Cavafy – 58.8%
Wole Soyinka – 41.2%

Hafez – 53.4%
Rabindranath Tagore – 46.6%

Arthur Rimbaud – 25.4%
Pablo Neruda – 74.6%

Pacific Northwest
Matthew Dickman – 51.4%
Paulann Petersen – 48.6%

Michael Dickman – 47.4%
Crystal Williams – 52.6%

Dorianne Laux – 38.6%
Tess Gallagher – 61.4%

Sam Hamill – 32.0%
Carolyn Kizer – 68.0%

William Stafford – 49.5%
Gary Snyder – 50.5%

Richard Hugo – 24.0%
Theodore Roethke – 76.0%

Floyd Skloot – 59.8%
Primus St. John – 40.2%

Mary Szybist – 67.6%
Carl Adamshick – 32.4%

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon:... Used Trade Paper $8.00
  2. The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 Used Trade Paper $9.95
  3. All-American Poem (Apr Honickman 1st...
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  4. A Bride of Narrow Escape Used Trade Paper $8.50
  5. From Threshold to Threshold New Trade Paper $16.25
  6. The Dream of the Unified Field:... Used Trade Paper $7.95
  7. New and Selected Poems, Volume One Used Trade Paper $14.00
  8. The Complete Poems
    Sale Trade Paper $11.98

3 Responses to "Poetry Madness: Round One Recap"

    WendP April 12th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Yeah, but where's Ogden Nash? Where is Robert Herrick? Where is Edward Lear? A travesty, I tell ya!

    JimH April 14th, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    What, no run-off between Wallace Stevens and Elizabeth Bishop? Foul!

    Barbara April 15th, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Absolutely wonderful "sidelines" commentary!

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