Sunday, November 22, 2009


I assume the decision of the National Book Award judges to give the poetry prize this year to a book published by the University of California Press

was meant to be a rebuke to those UCal students who are denouncing tuition increases and the elimination of their services at that school—

the judges are in effect chiding these protesters:

Ingrates! look at what your money goes to support: great works of verse like this! You should be proud and thankful that your money is used to publish 50 dollar volumes like this one.

Isn't that why the judges made their choice: isn't it intended to admonish those rebellious youths and their lack of appreciation for the value of the cultural capital produced by this university?

Surely the judges have voted yea to the established priorities of UCal, in particular the budget decisions made in the past, which granted such wise funding to its poetry series.

The judges have taken their stand in support of the status quo—

the judges have issued a censure against any student

who might object to wasteful expeditures by academic authorities responsible for fostering artistic extravagances like the one being honored on this occasion—

It seems obvious that the NBA poetry judges opted to pick a book published by a university press

(any UnivPress book, it didn't matter which)

as a show of support for the efforts of such presses,

some of whose poetry series are in danger of being curtailed or cut altogether in the current financial crisis,

and of course as a protest against the defunding of those presses and those poetry series.

(One guesses the next National Robogenetics Awards will be decided along similar lines.)