Barry’s poetry hits the big time
Please forgive me for using this space to toot my own horn, but I’m just so excited and I have to tell someone.A while back I entered one of my poems in a nationwide poetry contest, and about three weeks ago I received notification that I had been chosen as a semifinalist, making me eligible to win the grand prize of $1,000 or one of 99 other prizes! Needless to say, I’m giddy with excitement.Before I go any further, let me share the poem with you. It’s entitled, “Stink.”Every now and again I catch a whiff of myselfAnd I stinkEverything about me stinksMy clothes stinkMy shoes stinkMy car, my office, my attitudeAnd judging by the looks people have been giving meMy breath isn’t holding up too well, eitherNow I know what you’re thinking: “Gosh, Barry, I thought you were so bitter and cynical, but after reading that poem I realize that you have a soft, introspective side.” I get that a lot when I share my poetry with people. I always felt that my poem, “Stink”, was good, what with its deep allusions to the human condition and the underlying theme of hope in an otherwise dismal existence … kind of The Hero’s Journey in miniature … but I never dreamed that it would be good enough to become a semifinalist in a NATIONAL CONTEST.Here’s what the letter from Mr. Harding of The Poetry Guild said: “Our Selection Panel has been hard at work reviewing thousands of poems. Your poem, Stink, has been accepted based on its originality and creative merit.” Wow. They even took the time to print “Stink” in slightly bolder type and offset it just a bit from the rest of the sentence.The letter continues, “As a semifinalist, your poem will be appearing in our upcoming anthology, ‘A Celebration of Poets.’ This may be the most unique poetry collection ever published. It will be a generous-sized, deluxe volume of collected works by some of today’s most promising authors. It will no doubt become the center of conversation among friends and family. If you would like to own your own copy of ‘A Celebration of Poets,’ including your poem, Stink, orders are being taken on a first come, first serve basis.”Well, I just about fainted. Not only did they like “Stink”, but they were going to publish it! In a “treasured anthology” with “museum quality” pages and “exquisitely hardbound in a beautifully crafted cover,” no less.But there was more: “‘A Celebration of Poets’ will without a doubt reach the widest possible audience, including book publishers and a number of magazine publishers. Your poem exhibits true literary excellence. We are proud to publish fine poems such as yours in our upcoming edition.” Literary excellence? I must really have what it takes.And the best part, according to the letter, is that “A Celebration of Poets” is only $59.95, plus $5 shipping and handling. For an additional $19.95 I can have my “Personal Profile,” a little blurb with things like my hobbies, awards, number of children and philosophical viewpoint, included in the book. And for only $9.95 more, I can dedicate my poem to someone! That’s only about $95 for a book with my poem in it! And just in time for Christmas!Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, yesterday I got another letter from The Poetry Guild, this time announcing that I was a FINALIST in their 2002 National Poetry Contest! And though there was no mention of the $1,000 grand prize – hey, poetry isn’t about money, anyway – the letter did say that I can now get the “Celebration” anthology for only $49.95. That’s a ten dollar savings!As everyone knows, poets are more sensitive and emotional than normal people. Because of this, I became all teary-eyed while reading this most recent letter, and had to have someone read it to me. The letter itself was like a beautiful poem. As you read its closing paragraph, printed below, you’ll understand what I mean:”Barry Smith, you have a rare and special gift. So many people wish they had copies of the book in which their poem appears, but miss the chance. Don’t let this pass you by. Just return the enclosed rush-order form along with your check today. Remember, your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back. You risk nothing!”God, that’s so beautiful. Especially that part about risk. How true. How very true.(NEXT TIME: Barry goes all weepy when SPIN magazine offers him a subscription at 85% off the cover price.)
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The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.