Monday, November 7, 2011

Bridesmaid revisted

There's only one bridesmaid dress hanging in my closet. A wedding dress*, too, though it's neither white nor floofy.

But literarily (not the same as literally) it seems I'm always a bridesmaid, never a bride -- at least where awards are concerned. Today, I didn't win the Acorn-Plantos Award for Peoples Poetry, for which Vs. was short-listed. That wasn't a surprise (It was a surprise to be short-listed, though. After all, it's A National Award), but still.

A couple of weeks ago, Leonard Cohen made a beautiful, gracious acceptance speech as he received the Prince of Asturias Award in Spain. A little bit of it really stuck with me, probably because the ceremony was the same day I found out about my short-listing: "I’ve always felt some ambiguity about an award for poetry. Poetry comes from a place that no one commands, that no one conquers. So I feel somewhat like a charlatan to accept an award for an activity which I do not command."

The small, petulant part of me thought: "Sure, L. Cohen, it's easy to be ambiguous about poetry awards when you've won a bunch." 

But, since I'm pretty sure he doesn't do or say anything flippantly, I thought about his words a little more. Specifically: "If Leonard Cohen's a charlatan, what does that make me?" 

Lucky to be a bridesmaid (and luckier still that I don't have the actual dresses). 

*which, by the way, I wore to Mr. Cohen's Winnipeg concert in 2009.

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