Poetry markets surged yesterday on hard-driving gains for the new dating company with the cute name — Middle Ages Single Poets, Inc. —  on news that this year’s winner of the Yale Series of Long-in-the-Tooth Younger Poets is 45 years old. MASP Inc. which had been giving its holders (most of them aging poets themselves) disappointing returns over the past two quarters, went public only a year ago.

“We couldn’t be happier with the broader implications of this bit of news,” said MASP, Inc. founder and CEO W.S. Merwin, speaking to this reporter via teleconference earlier today. “More and more, people are realizing that poets are not necessarily washed up after 39, and that the age of aesthetic and romantic activity goes well beyond 40.” Helen Vendler and Marjorie Perloff, dual Vice Presidents for the company’s Dating Tips and Sexting Tactics Department, held hands on the couch next to Merwin, earnestly nodding in agreement. Charles Bernstein, his head in Perloff’s lap and his hand on Vendler’s knee, seemed like a kind of pietà.

According to the Harriet Blog, on March 5th (and we more or less quote), Yale University Press announced its 2019 Yale Series of Long-in-the-Tooth Younger Poets competition winner, chosen by multiple Prize-Winner-judge Mr. Carl Phillips. The Yale Series of Long-in-the-Tooth Younger Poets Award is the oldest national award in the United States, making it the grandpa of the by-now deeply institutionalized system of corporate and government-funded You Got Talent poetry shows, which have pretty much overwhelmed the entire contemporary poetic landscape, mashing it into a scheme-ridden, bloodthirsty, Cultural Real-Estate grifter sort of thang. Which 98% of living poets, of course, hoping to someday win a prestigious prize themselves, opt to pretend is not the case, and that all of it, including themselves, is innocent and pure as the fallen snow in “Christmas in Connecticut,” from 1945.

When asked by Forbes Poetry Beat reporter Amy Kaching why the winner of the once-prestigious prize for people under 30 (the threshold had previously been upped to 35, then to 40) was 45 years old, white, and hardly a spring chicken anymore, Carl Phillips, even less a spring chicken himself, replied,

Hey, it’s a blind competition, OK? I swear I had no idea who the author was I picked, nor did I have any idea how old she was, even though admittedly I have to admit that 45 is a bit old to win the Yale Series of Younger Poets. I mean I had no idea who the poet was, OK?! Are you suggesting I did? No, I did not!!

When then asked by someone with a Russian accent if Phillips thought Ms. Osier would be heard from again, unlike every single obscure and eventual unknown winner of the Yale Series of Long-in-the-Tooth Younger Poets since 1984, Phillips replied,

Hey, I’m just the judge. You got me! But it’s still a good prize-brand to put on your résumé… And if it were up to me, I’d make the age limit 60, because 60 in poetry is the new 45.

Asked by this reporter (despite being elbowed and “accidentally” kneed in sensitive nether regions by Nation reporter Stephanie Hurt as he did so) why he chose the almost AARP-eligible poet for a “Younger Poet Prize,” Carl Phillips, wiping his brow and reading from his prepared Judge’s report, stated:

It might have happened/at the river,’ begins one poem, called ‘Story,’ after which we are told several things, but never what happened, or to whom – a situation that could, in less capable hands, lead to reader frustration. But the poems of Osier’s The Solace Is Not the Lullaby quietly, cumulatively, persuasively argue for restraint and precision (both too often forgotten in contemporary poetry) as tools for the confession that the art of story – of telling – finally amounts to. The poems give record not to what’s been lost, but to the knowing ‘you may have had something/but lost it’…

In response to such transparent spin, hands shot up among the more than one-hundred journalists packed into the Beinecke Library Rare Books Room. But Phillips waved them off as he abruptly left the proceedings, yelling, “You’re all fake news, just fake poetry news. Both the stock indexes and the employment numbers in poetry have never been higher in the history of the United States of America!”

Then, turning at the door, he grabbed his crotch and stuck out his tongue at frustrated poet, but now-prominent journalist for the CNN Lit Desk, Jim Acosta, who had called out, “But Mr. Phillips, how much more do you get paid for doing this than Auden did back in the 1950s, and if you are getting paid more, why has no single winner since maybe John Ashbery done shit following the award?” A young woman who’d been handing out the microphone to reporters, rushed at Acosta, grabbed the phallic object out of his hand, and began viciously beating the wannabe poet over the head with it.

Then all the reporters went out, left-wing and right-wing both and–because the world is going to end up like Venus and there is now nothing to be done about it–got totally wasted at an old dive bar near the Yale campus called “Three Sheets.” A number of them were reportedly kicked out of the establishment around 1 AM for standing on tables and reciting from the pornographic, scatological letters of James Joyce to his then fiancé, Nora Barnacle. Dastardly anal things, at the heart of canonical Western modernist literature…

Carl Phillips has not responded to subsequent calls from this reporter, nor has the imperial U.S. Department of State, secret funder of the Yale Series of Long-in-the-Tooth Younger Poets since 1956.

–Dispatches