Always a Bridesmaid

Second place! Vallum Award for Poetry 2011

My entry for this contest got a lot of bang for its buck. I submitted three poems: the first, “Alkahest,” had to be withdrawn when it was accepted for publication by Petrichor Machine; the second, “Tryst,” also had to be withdrawn when it was taken by Sugar House Review; and the third, “Veninum Lupinum,” won second prize and got me some cash and another publication credit. I think that’s the highest density of good luck I’ve ever encountered.

This is the first writing award I’ve gotten since—wait for it—1993, in college. (Dinosaurs roamed the earth, and we used baby woolly mammoths as vacuum cleaners.) That time it was the Boit Manuscript Prize for Poetry, and that was also a second-place win. Interestingly, there was no first place winner. When I asked the judges what had happened to first prize, they said that they didn’t award one because they felt that none of the entries was good enough to warrant one.

Oh, snap. In other words, my entry was the best they received; it just wasn’t first-place material. Of course, by awarding me second place instead of first place, they also saved themselves $125 in prize money, which probably bought them a fair amount of liquor that night.

Historical note: I also placed second in the Boit Manuscript Prize for Drama the year before, for a one-act play I’d written about a guy who misdials a suicide hotline and gets his ex-girlfriend working a phone sex line instead. Good times, good times.

So apparently I’m a second-place kinda guy. But as a good friend pointed out, silver’s prettier than gold anyway.