Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4: This Announcement, Good News, Twice

For a moment after this announcement, the Arables and the Zuckermans were unable to speak or move.  Then Avery picked up a handful of straw and threw it high in the air and gave a loud yell.  The straw fluttered down like confetti into Fern's hair.  Mr. Zuckerman hugged Mrs. Zuckerman.  Mr. Arable kissed Mrs. Arable.  Avery kissed Wilbut.  Lurvy shook hands with everybody.  Fern hugged her mother.  Avery hugged Fern.  Mrs. Arable hugged Mrs. Zuckerman.

This passage is one of the happiest in the book.  The judges at the Fair have just announced Wilbur's award.  The narrative moves from utter defeat (Wilbur losing first prize to Uncle the pig) to utter joy (Wilbur receiving the judges' special commendation).  Wilbur has won.  Charlotte has won.

I have received some good news today.  Twice.  The first is that I am one of ten nominees for the title of U. P. Poet Laureate.  I don't stand a chance against the other nominees.  Most are very widely published, award-winning poets.  However, there is truth to the statement that it's just pretty cool to be nominated.  Now, people just have to go on the website and vote.

The other good news came in the mail today.  I received a letter from the editor of the magazine The MacGuffin, which recently accepted a couple of my poems.  The letter was thin, and I honestly thought it was a kill letter, which means that the editor decided, for whatever reason, not to publish my work.  That's what I was expecting.  I opened the letter:

"I am excited to let you know that the staff at The MacGuffin has nominated your poem "Without Words" for the 2015 Pushcart Prize!  Your work stands out as one of the best pieces we've published in 2014."

I was completely gobsmacked.  I stood in the middle of my living room, reading the letter over and over.  For the second year in a row, I am a Pushcart Prize nominee.  At the end of this really tough week of mourning and sadness, I actually felt joy tonight.  If I'd had some hay to throw in the air, I would have.  Instead, my book club met, and, during the course of the night, I drank several glasses of wine.  It was absolutely lovely.

Of course, I thought of my friend who passed away the day before Thanksgiving.  Last year, when I received news of my Pushcart nomination, Ray was one of the first people I e-mailed with the news.  When I saw him in the department the next day, he stopped me in the hall and said, "Marty, congratulations on the Pushcart nomination!  That's fantastic!"

Tonight, my friend/fellow writer, Matt, and I raised our glasses of wine to Ray.  Then, Matt smiled at me and said, "To the Pushcart, man.  Fucking awesome."

Saint Marty is genuinely happy tonight.  For the first time in about a week.

I'd like to thank everybody who made this day possible...

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