Dear Mr. Donald Rumsfeld,
You are reputed to be a man who is creative with words, and you are some kind of honcho in the United States, and as such I hope you can help me. Recently I received an e-mail from a Matthew Edgarson, who claims to be representing the Poet’s Concordia of America. I wrote back to Mr. Edgarson as you will see below:
Dear Mr. Edgarson,
You recently sent me the following message, to which I have appended a few remarks:
Ladies and gentlemen, and fellow poets … It’s now time to declare the winner of the largest cash prize ever awarded to an amateur poet. Our Poet of the Year for 2004 and Grand Prize winner of $25,000 is … Kay Sexton!
We’re familiar with your work, Kay, and you know … it could happen just that way!
Oh, really? Well, you are more familiar with my work than I am. I’ve only ever written one poem in my entire life, after the death of my favourite conifer as a result of constantly being piddled on by my terrier puppy and even so, it went into the recycle bin eight months or more ago. (The poem that is, not the dog or the conifer).
I would like to inform you of your nomination as Poet of the Year for 2004, and to personally invite you to read your poetry at the single largest gathering of poets in history, where you will be formally inducted as an International Poet of Merit and Honored Member of our Society for 2004.
A long silence will presumably ensue, as I haven’t written any?
Your induction will take place Friday evening, March 5th, in Orlando, Florida, during the Poets’ Concordia Spring 2004 Convention and Symposium.
Orlando, where they have SARS-carrying mosquitoes, killer alligators, and giant mice pretending to be cartoon characters? Why would I want to go there?
You will also be honored with two separate and very special awards for your poetic achievement at special ceremonies throughout the weekend. First, to honor and commemorate your poetic accomplishments, after you present your poetry in front of fellow poets from around the world, amidst the applause from the audience, you will be presented with your Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Silver Award Cup. The Award is a magnificent work of art in itself ($200.00 value), uniquely engraved and mounted on a cherry-wood base (see it here). This incomparable award is so large and heavy, you may need an extra suitcase just to carry it home!
And Kay … there’s much more …
I can barely wait, is it dancing boys in little sparkly thongs carrying trays of nose-candy (whatever that is) and rose-petal sherbet?
In recognition of your poetry presentation at this prestigious International Symposium, we will also create and present to you a beautiful and colorful Medal to honor your poetic dedication and achievements.
Thank you, but I’d rather have the boys.
36 POETS WILL SHARE $74,000.00 TOTAL IN PRIZES—INCLUDING THE SINGLE LARGEST POETRY CASH PRIZE EVER AWARDED—$25,000.00!
And why should I care, not being a poet?
And don’t forget the most lucrative amateur poetry contest ever! Your contest entry poem can be written in any style, on any subject … and can be up to 40 lines long.
Just think … for this poem alone, you will have the opportunity to win one of 30 cash and gift prizes to be awarded at the Concordia including a Grand Prize of $25,000.00—the largest cash prize ever awarded in an amateur poetry competition. There’s also a Second Prize of $10,000.00, and Third Prize of all-expenses paid Caribbean cruise.
Wow! What a shame I get seasick.
**You will be officially inducted as an honorary “International Poet of Merit” for 2004.
**You and your poetic achievements will be honored at two Gala Banquets and Award Ceremonies.
Oh gosh, be still my beating heart, this is nearly as good as the boys and the cocaine …
**You will learn more about your craft in seminars, reading rooms, rap sessions, and workshops, where you can read and discuss your poetry in informal settings with other poets from all over the world. Back by popular demand are the Concordia flop rooms, our famous sunset yoga to poetry readings, the Concordia frat house complete with poetic hazing in iambic pentameters and workshops on how to fine-tune your poetic talents.
Well, to be honest, I couldn’t know less about poetry than I currently do so I am willing to accept that this is the one truthful statement in your entire scam! Please cease to waste my time and just send the medal and money in the post — you may pass my email address to any young men carrying platters but otherwise I shall insist that my silent poetry is given the accolade it deserves — total obscurity.
Kay Sexton (Mrs.)
That was five months ago. I have not received my medal or the cash awards promised me. Should I write again to Mr. Edgarson, and if so, would you recommend that I couch my reminder in sonnet form?
Kay Sexton (Mrs.)