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Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
Broken News
The Anti-Laureates
by Robert Archambeau

Author's Links

Presenting the award for United States Anti-Laureate is Miss Suzanne Somers...

And the winner is...


(Wild applause, accompanied by a murmur of discontent coming from
Barrett Watten's table).

Mr. Anselm Hollo

is hereby appointed


for the year 2001

with all the ironies and contradictions

appertaining there unto

And remember, kids -- all the real dadas are against dada.

With Great Sobriety and Dignity,

Robert Archambeau
High Commissioner
United States Anti-Laureate Commission

9 july ("from the desk of the anti-laureate")

"With all the ironies and contradictions appertaining thereunto" (High
Commissioner Robert Archambeau of the United States Anti-Laureate
Commission), I am delighted to accept my appointment as US Anti-Laureate for the year 2001.

While I agree with several of Barrett Watten's points regarding the "Iowa
exclusion" and the "system of representation on which the [US] Poet
Laureate[ship] is based," I prefer to read the title as simply representing a
"Big No" (as in George Grosz's remarkable autobiography, Ein kleines Ja und
ein grosses Nein
-- A Small Yes and a Big No) to the "laurels" bestowed by some librarian and his cronies in the (increasingly) provincial capital of
the world.

A "No," as well, to the tiresome hype (put out by publishers, arrangers of literary events, etc.) of all the "award-winning" So-and-sos -- a hype to which perhaps only "arts administration" bureaucrats still pay any attention.

As for the Iowa Exclusion, and the Exclusion of the Great Dead, I may, upon
further Pataphysical Reflection and Discussion with The High Commissioner and other interested parties, decide to suggest waiving these in years to come. The Anti- and Alternative Laureates are legion, and include many more than those nominated this time around. I agree with Watten that Robert Grenier's indomitable US American lyricism deserves recognition, as does the dynamic, visionary, linguistically and philosophically innovative work of Alice Notley (my nominee).

Since the Anti-Laureateship is not funded by taxpayers, I cannot invite
Notley, or Grenier, or Watten, or any of you, to come and read at the Library
of Congress. I have, however, acted as an advisor to the illustrious Left
Hand Reading Series in Boulder, Colorado, for the past couple of years, and
intend to continue to do so. The organizers of the series, poets Laura E.
Wright and Mark DuCharme, pass a Venerable Hat for Honorarium, which thus varies according to the number of solvent persons in the audience. In its modest way, this series has been, is, and will be working toward "undoing the system of representation on which the [US] Poet Laureate[ship] is based" (Watten). For my personal record of efforts in that direction, see my book Caws and Causeries: Around Poetry and Poets (La Alameda/University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 1-888809-15-9).

And in case Bob Grumman, and anyone else, truly wants to refresh his or her
memory of any of my work, s/he now has an opportunity to do so by asking the local public librarian to obtain a copy of Notes on the Possibilities and
Attractions of Existence: Selected Poems 1965-2000 by Anselm Hollo
, just out from Coffee House Press (ISBN 1-56689-115-9).

Allow me to end this message with the poem "Piano Solo" by Chile's Anti-Poet Nicanor Parra:

Since Man's life is nothing but an action at a distance,
A bit of foam shining in a glass;
Since trees are nothing but agitated furniture,
Mere chairs and tables in perpetual motion;
Since we ourselves are merely beings
(Just as god himself is no more than god);
Since we don't talk to be listened to
But merely to get others to talk,
And since an echo precedes the voices that produce it;
And since we haven't even the consolation of chaos
In a garden that yawns and fills with air,
A puzzle we have to solve before dying
So that we can be tranquilly resuscitated
After we've over-indulged in women;
And since there's also a heaven in hell,
Allow me to do a thing or two:
I want to make a shuffling noise with my feet,
I want my soul to find its body.

     (translated by Jorge Elliott)

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