Thursday, May 28, 2009

On the Lambda Literary Awards and Mark Doty's Blog

Did Mark Doty slip up and reveal on his blog that he is, indeed, one of the judges for this year’s Lambda Literary awards?

He surely offers a compact, cogent rationale. Out of the five nominees, Doty declares the winner should go to one of the younger poets, for his pleasure in seeing “their terrific work come to light.”

The nominees include Jack Spicer, James Allen Hall, Jericho Brown, Rick Barot, and Mark Doty himself.

It’s nice to know that Mark Doty feels he can narrow down the field of winners to three of his ex-students: Rick Barot, James Allen Hall, and Jericho Brown.

Out of generosity to the young, poets, I suppose, still moving out of the darkness, Doty declares that the judges should skip over him himself. He already won twice, he admits.

My question: why did he allow himself to be nominated again? In order to follow his line of reasoning, he needed to disallow his publishers to submit the book. Provide a less celebrated poet to take the spot.

Or maybe he just needed to prove an old-timer could still seize a position. Once that occurred, he could let his self-labeled altruism shine forth.

Unconsciously or not, Doty disappointingly misses the point of a competition: choosing the best book.

What gay author wants to fee that he won the competition out of another reason that he wrote the best book, according to the judges?

(I wish we could find out who judges these awards. I’m curious. Someone choose me! I have opinions.)

It is also insulting to Jack Spicer’s spirit that Doty declares we should ignore him. According to Doty, has no use for the award as he is resting in “paradise.” For someone who boasts about his faith in the spiritual, the afterlife, I’m surprised that Doty couldn’t see the award as a vehicle for the dead and living to talk to one another. That’s what I see it as.

Because Mark Doty must be aware of the stronghold he has on the poetry world, he needs to heighten his self-awareness of how his comments could hurt the integrity of a competition through essentially encouraging judges to see it as an act of charity.

I’m rooting for Spicer. My runner-up would be James Allen Hall. But who am I?

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