This week's vote for the Daily Poem Project took place this morning (Tuesday, May 16). The poems in question were those on Poetry Daily from Tuesday, May 9, to Monday, May 15.
In another close vote, the winner was Ioanna Carlsen's "Forgiveness," with five votes. Janet Sylvester's "Barometric" received four votes, while three poems received three votes each: Victoria Chang's "Proof," Kathryn Starbuck's "Thinking of John Clare," and Stephen Yenser's "Tidepools: La Jolla."
This week, then, the two most "prestigious" poets of the week received the least votes: Carl Phillips with two for his "Riding Westward" and Frank Bidart with no votes at all for his "Tu Fu Watches the Spring Festival Across Serpentine Lake." This contradicted an effect that I had noticed in last year's Daily Poem Project, in which poets with good reputations tended to get votes (only a poem by Gerald Stern got shut out among poems by poets whose reputations I thought relatively "substantial" in my own subjective way).
Still, I was quite surprised by the winner, as I found Carlsen's poem dry and abstract; even though I read it twice, I did not consider it a serious contender at all. It has some humor, but that's all I found in it. Here's part III of the poem:
if you could,
but what if you can't —
the trick is to believe
your own story,
accident is needed for some kinds of change.
I like that "[y]ou would / if you could, / but what if you can't," but surely there is more to do with this dissection of a cliché than Carlsen does here.
The second-place poem, Sylvester's "Barometric," was on my short list of two poems, but I gave my vote to Yenser's "Tidepools: La Jolla"—perhaps I am just a sucker for rhymed poems about daughters, especially one that contains a lovely rhyme on the name of my favorite 19th-century American poet:
Quick, mystic — this is the world's profoundest mirror.
The girl in any of us leans a little nearer.
You lean to it this evening, Helen Emily,
Holding my hand, to glimpse us both, though dreamily ...
Week 1 (with explanation of project)