A couple of days ago I got this seemingly cryptic e-mail from Mr. Benjamin Morris. A fellow editor at Forest Publications, poet, cocktail guru and all-round gentleman. Under the subject “Just heard the news” he wrote:

“pulling for you with everything i got. fingers crossed man. bones shaken. lambs slaughtered. bringing the bull in now.”

It is probably a testament to my upbringing or my permanently negative state of mind that my first thought was, “My God, I’m dying. I’ve got cancer and somehow only Ben Morris knows.” If you know Ben, perhaps this doesn”t seem too illogical. I do expect that when the bad time comes I’ll get a similar message from the Bellini-supping son-of-a-gun.

Turns out — I’ve been short-listed for Salt Publishing’s 2009 Crashaw Prize. Which, as it goes, is a lot better than cancer and a whole hell of a lot better than whatever I’d begun to expect from annus Two Million and Ten.

Out of the 12 finalists, four will get a collection published from Salt. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this was some kind of poetry holy grail.

From here, it is truly a treat to be short-listed and I sincerely wish the other poets the best of luck. I’m sure Salt will select a varied and deserving four poets and I’m positive they have some hard decisions to make. Frankly, I wouldn’t like to do it.

If you are interested, last year Salt published one of the most intriguing collections of poems I’ve seen in a while. Juan Gelman’s “The Poems of Sidney West” isĀ  reminiscent of the brilliant Pessoa whose beautiful, haunting Book of Disquiet I currently have on my bedside table.

Anyway, Juan Gelman’s “The Poems of Sidney West” is a fantastically meta-read. Here’s the little blurb:

This translation offers to English readers for the first time the splendid verse of imaginary American author Sidney West, created by Juan Gelman, one of the greatest living poets of the Hispanic world. These laments question Western assumptions surrounding death, erase boundaries between poetry and narrative, privilege the magical as a vital aspect of reality and seek the transformation of the lyric persona.”

Seriously, I’m flattered to be on the same website as something so cool. You can read samples and more about Gelman’s book here.

Now, I’m going to let my mouth off my trumpet.