Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Welcome poets, judges, and all you fans!
The Scarriet Best American Poetry March Madness Road To The Final Four Tournament has been a whopping success.
Just as a play-within-a-play charms us within the context of the play precisely by a ratio of two to one, so the best of ‘the best’ cannot help but double the enjoyment of any who would enter into the spirit of climbing to the top—of what isn’t there. Of course there’s no best. Of course there’s no God. But that is why our belief is so fanatical.
(Scattered clapping, hoots and hollers.)
Margaret Atwood, Janet Bowdan, Lewis Buzbee, Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, William Kulik, Reb Livingston, and Bernard Welt…
(Terrific applause…standing ovation…)
…have climbed to the top of a mountain, a mountain as real…
…as anything contained in the 1,500 poems published in the Best American Poetry’s 21 year existence.
This is not to slight the reality of those poems…including the poems themselves which made it to the Elite Eight…
(clapping, foot stomping…)
but we all know that to write poetry is to translate doubtful thoughts on doubtful objects into a doubtful product for those who doubt, so that…
(Hoots and hollers)
…we might deliciously doubt our own doubts on what is so deliciously doubtful.
What could be more real than that?
And now may I present to you the expert on Good Poems…
Here’s Garrison Keillor!
Ahem. Thank you. You know, with all the excitement around Best American Poetry March Madness, I’m tempted to say sports is more poetical than poetry…
Who thought the Muse looked like… Howard Cosell?
Well, John Ashbery is out of the tournament. He’s become the audience. He’s becomes his admirers. There you are…Hi, John! You dominated BAP. How can you be out of this tournament? Knocked out in the first round, right? What happened? (Pause for comic effect…)
[Audience member: “Nathan Whiting!”]
Oh, yes…14th seed. The dog poem. Nathan Whiting turned John Ashbery into a stag.
And think of the poets who didn’t make the tournament. August Kleinzahler? Where is he?
Ron Silliman? Is he here? Where is the School of…Noise?
Charles Bernstein? The School of Language. Try to give us something more than objectivity and cleverness, fellas…
All kidding aside, I have a B.A. in English, so what do I know? And not from Harvard, either. The University of Minnesota.
(isolated cheer or two)
There’s a Golden Gopher. That has a poetic ring to it, doesn’t it? Golden Gopher. Could anyone write a poem on that? Ode to a Golden Gopher? It would sound too strange…words are funny, aren’t they? That’s the challenge of poetry, isn’t it? To make words behave. Golden Gopher ought to sound poetic, but once we hold it aloft…once we think on it…the whole thing sounds…
Let’s have a great round of applause for the Scarriet Best American Poetry Elite Eight!
Congratulations, Scarriet! You’re getting more hits than ever. You are now the 46,793rd most popular poetry website!
Scarriet will never be the heroin of poetry appreciation. Poems are not appreciated on Scarriet so much as thrown off a building to see if they will fly.
To those who are still alive in the tournament, you’ve earned it.