Sunday, November 05, 2006

Poets Laureate Confessional

I have to be honest that when I started the first annual "I Want to Be Poet Laureate" contest, it was meant to be this sort of tongue-in-cheek joke. I thought that a few friends might send in a limmerick about Arizona, or a silly three liner about New Jersey (thanks, Rob E!).

But now it's a real contest. I forgot how earnest and serious poets can be. It's been a true pleasure to get some poetry by people who take it very, very seriously. So seriously that they would never use the word "very" twice in a row like that.

And in response to my public challenge, even William Carlos Williams sent in a poem. I was suprised that he chose "The Red Wheelbarrow" since in later life he came to reject all that the Imagist movement stood for, but I suppose he's had lots of time to think about it, being dead and all. I suppose he really understands now how much depends on a red wheel barrow that is slicked with water and beside some chickens. White chickens. (Note to WCW: My wheelbarrow is blue, actually, but I know what you were going for.)

All that to say, keep the contributions coming. I've received well over thirty poems now, but that means there are some states with only a few poems. Remember, the deadline is November 15th, a scant ten days away.

And hey-- if you posted a poem but didn't give me a way to contact you (i.e. an e-mail address) you can still rectify this monstrous error by sending me an e-mail (matt.mikalatos (at)

Gracias, everyone. Stay strong and every state of the union shall have a poet laureate.


  1. Anonymous11:41 AM

    "The Red Wheelbarrow" is probably my most anthologized poem, and therefore most recognizable and possibly most appealing to a general audience. My personal convictions regarding style and all of my ideologies seem insignificant in death - it is my hope that being nominated Poet Laurate for my home state of New Jersey might immortalize me in some way.

    However, it is clear to me in retrospect that it is not the general audience which must be pleased, but only the judge. Perhaps you might prefer something from my later work, then:

    Shadows cast by the street light

    under the stars,

    the head is tilted back,

    the long shadow of the legs

    presumes a world taken for granted

    on which the cricket trills

  2. Thanks WCW!

    Always glad to have famous deceased people around.

  3. BTW, you are the funniest dead person that I know.

  4. Anonymous12:37 PM

    I sense that you are skeptical that I'm actually William Carlos Williams, writing to you from beyond the grave.

    You are correct, of course, and have found me out. I am not William Carlos Williams, writing to you from beyond the grave.

    I'm actually T.S. Eliot, but I thought William Carlos Williams' work was better suited for the dubious distinction of Posthumous Poet Laureate of New Jersey...

  5. TS! To be honest, I really prefer your poetry over Williams. But do you know who I really like? Gerard Manley Hopkins! Tell him hi from me!