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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, September 12, 2008 9:59 am
Friday Funnies
Posted by: Keir Graff

From America’s Finest News Source (“National Endowment for the Arts Funds Construction of $1.3 Billion Poem,” The Onion):

WASHINGTON—The National Endowment for the Arts announced Monday that it has begun construction on a $1.3 billion, 14-line lyric poem—its largest investment in the nation’s aesthetic- industrial complex since the $850 million interpretive-dance budget of 1985.

“America’s metaphors have become strained beyond recognition, our nation’s verses are severely overwrought, and if one merely examines the internal logic of some of these archaic poems, they are in danger of completely falling apart,” said the project’s head stanza foreman Dana Gioia. “We need to make sure America’s poems remain the biggest, best-designed, best-funded poems in the world.”

Perhaps appropriately, given the source, the timing is ironic. It has just been reported that Gioia is stepping down as chairman of the NEA (“NEA Chairman Dana Gioia to leave in 2009,” AP).

It’s not easy being a poet and holding an important public position, as Andrew Motion, England’s poet laureate, can tell you (“Snubbed by the Queen, abandoned by the muse,” by Alison Flood, Books Blog, The Guardian).

“The Queen never gives me an opinion on my work for her,” he mourns. “The last thing I did was for her diamond wedding anniversary. I came up with a poem and had to go along to Westminster Abbey. It was read beautifully by Dame Judi Dench. Afterwards the Queen stopped me and said,’Thank you’. But I have no idea if she really liked it.” An unappreciated poet? Hold the front page.

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