17 jun. 2007

I know this is not very recent, but I didn't have a blog in 1995:

When the Academy of American Poets announced it was giving Merwin the Tanning Prize, some said Merwin's best work was behind him, that since his 1967 book, "The Lice," a gloomy volume about the destruction of nature, his work had become obscure and abstract. (The critic Helen Vendler once called Merwin "a lesser Eliot," and his poems "elusive pallors.") In addition, Merwin is a chancellor of the academy; the judges -- the late James Merrill, J. D. McClatchy and Carolyn Kizer -- were all friends of Merwin's.

Initially, Kizer wanted the prize to go to Gwendolyn Brooks, an African-American. "My qualm was it would look like the white male establishment handing around prizes to each other." But James Merrill was chairman of the jury. "We wanted to find a real master," he said last fall. "Gwendolyn Brooks would be very distinguished. But somehow I don't think she's a master." Kizer, herself a potential candidate for chancellor, was outnumbered and eventually voted with the rest. "I revere him," says Kizer. "Thank God it was Merwin, who has such enormous stature."

Yeah, thank God it was Merwin, and not some OTHER white-male poet of lesser "stature." "Somehow" it's hard to see Brooks as a "MASTER." I wonder why that is? Not tall enough, maybe? It's a good thing that these Chancellors of the Academy have such a strong sense of ethics. Otherwise we would have them giving $10,000 prizes out to their friends. We couldn't have that.

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