by Marcia LeBeau
The hosts would be Ada Limón and Matthew Dickman. So young (in poetry years, which are the opposite of dog years), full of promise, but able to realize this world is just one apricot illusion after another. But that wouldn’t stop them from casually flirting while they presented the awards. The producers’ idea, but they’d gone along with it knowing that the audience at home liked to imagine the Ploughshares/Vanity Fair after-party where they might steal off to a hushed velvet couch in the corner, their faces so close he’d feel her horse heart heavy with blood, his glasses too smudged for her to make out his eyes. And what if their lips collided, just for a second? Their time zones off and the dark earth calling them to LIVE FULLY. The show hadn’t been as game-changing as they had expected. The thirteen-year-old Internet sensation with 5.2 million hits for his poem “Holding the Lantern” hadn’t won, the new Flarf category had come and gone without fanfare—the winner, a Swedish poet with a less-than-stellar grasp of English had gone on for far too long while standing on his elbow. Lackluster music from the show buzzed in everyone’s head since Jewel had decided to boycott for reasons no one was sure of and the backup, Bob Dylan, was in the hospital for a knee replacement. The venerable bards placed strategically in the first three rows weren’t used to attention beyond subdued foreign university banquets or the occasional honors dinner at The New York Botanical Garden and barely acknowledged the cameras. And forget about the much-anticipated red carpet interviews. Not one poet could remember what they were wearing, but instead wanted to reflect upon politics, refugees, and food supply concerns. A real Sean Penn disaster.