BAP March Madness regulations allow poets to perform their poems in any manner they choose.
Jorie Graham, fearing elimination in the first round, has pulled off a coup.
The Harvard professor and Pultizer prize winning poet will have Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play Adam and Eve in her poem, “On Difficulty” (1988, Ashbery, Lehman, eds.)
The tournament’s 64 seeds will not be officially announced until Monday.
But this reporter was able to confirm that Graham’s “On Difficulty” has made the tourney as a 16th seed, and will have to face Galway Kinnell’s masterpiece, “When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone,” the no. 1 seed in the East, in the first round.
In Graham’s poem, the reader peers down voyeuristically as Adam and Eve touch one another.
The annoucement has put not only the poetry world, but the entire entertainment world, on red alert.
Is this for real?
Apparently it is.
Poets quickly took sides, some expressing outrage that Hollywood’s most famous couple could sway the outcome of an important poetry contest.
Tony Hoagland, reached by phone, spoke for many: “Kinnell’s poem is probably the best published in this country in the last 25 years. It would be a travesty of justice if Brangelina tips the scales against ‘When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone.’ I won’t believe it until I see it, though.”
Robert Pinsky, however, said in a statement this morning: “Jorie Graham has courageously fought during her entire career for difficult poetry, believing the difficult can be accessible. She refuses to dumb down. A poet of her intelligence and skill can and should be heard. I salute her.”
At this point, Scarriet will say just a quick word on “difficulty.” Someone without any musical ability, jotting down various notes at random, would produce a composition more difficult to play and hear than any dreamed of by Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Mozart, or Cage. Popular and accessible pieces of music are often more difficult to play than anything else in the repetoire. Difficulty as a quality or virtue in itself has no merit. T.S. Eliot created much mischief using that word. It should be retired, once and for all.
Hiring Brad and Angelina: now that’s difficult, or, more properly, a difficulty happily overcome.
Rumor has it that James Earl Jones was being asked by one of Kinnell’s friends to read “When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone.” Mr. Kinnell and Ms. Graham have so far refused to comment.