- To the Stranger Who Asked Me to Nominate Him for the Nobel Prize
I’ve read your offerings with dispassion and hope, your hamster haiku cycle and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Installment II,” with its pastiche of kookaburras, wallabies, and koalas. Alas, they are not for me. Reading your poems is like speed dating Ukrainian women on the Internet—little potential for anything lasting, but a pleasure to see them smile immodestly in a tongue they haven’t tamed. Take no offense. I failed to nominate millions of other Nobel candidates, many from my hometown. Besides, who wants a literature prize bankrolled by a fortune in dynamite? I return your poems and bio herewith, along with your cache of Forever stamps, enough to reach Stockholm several times over. Also the candids of you as ROTC cadet, badminton coach, and aging antelope slayer, and the one featuring your very nubile daughter leading the world in a two-fisted pom-pom cheer. Let us turn our backs on false ambition. Good advice for me, as well, having once dreamed my poems were etched on Prozac pills. I thought, Finally an audience! I thought, Sad dreamers amped up on my stanzas! Let us rethink fame. Not nominations but a whisper campaign in sagebrush and tendrils of smoke. Not applause but the squawks of seven crows. May a rainstorm single us out and soak us to the skin, may sun breathe us dry, may scrubbed shadows match our stride all the way home. [End Page 461]
lance larsen, poet laureate of Utah, is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Genius Loci. His nonfiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, and Denver Quarterly. A professor at Brigham Young University, he recently directed a study abroad program in Madrid.