Alice Quinn

by

07/31/2006

461 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

Neighborhood: Chelsea

The woman comes into the New York restaurant where I work

and is reading a poetry magazine. “Say,” I say, “is

that some sort of poetry magazine?” “Yeah,” she says.

“I like Billy Collins,” I say.

“Yeah?” she says.

“Yeah,” I say. “But don’t you think Poetry is Dead, kinda?”

“Not really,” she says, and she gives me facts and

figures and numbers to prove her point, which I have

since forgotten. Then she asks me if I’ve read

that John Ashberry article, you know,

the one in The New Yorker? “Oh yeah,” I say, “that

was a great article! I liked how at the end there was

a flashback to when he was young and struggling, for I

myself am young and struggling.” The woman smiles

and picks at her pea salad with the dill yogurt dressing

on top. Then we talk about Billy Collins some more,

and then this woman says, “You should read Elizabeth

Bishop.” “Okay,” I say, “yeah, I know her, but only when

she gets her stuff published in The New Yorker. Published

from purgatory, rather – she’s dead, right?” The woman

smiles and says, “You’re a bit of poet yourself, aren’t you?”

“Oh jeez,” I say, and my face blooms crimson, “I wish.

But I don’t know. I don’t really write poems. They’re

more like, I don’t know – maybe I’m a storyteller, really.

My lack of poetic skill is what keeps me from being a poet.

My similes are like…well…they’re like…they’re like, bad!

And my metaphors are…they are boulders of…of terribleness!

So no, I’m not a poet. I wish I were. Once I thought I was.

I won an award for poetry in college. It was called The Hopwood.

Ever heard of it? I went to Michigan. Yeah, uh, Go Blue!

But see, I wrote my prose when I was sober, during the day,

and my poetry at night, when I was drunk. And when my poetry

won…well, it was great for the ego, but not for the drinking!

Anyways. Enough about me. Are you done with your salad?”

She paid, smiled, and left.

“Who was that?” I asked my boss.

“That was Alice Quinn,” my boss replied, “she’s the Poetry

Editor at The New Yorker.” “Oh jeez,” I said, “I hope she’s

not mad because I said that part about how Poetry is Dead.”

“I doubt it,” my boss replied, which was confirmed that

weekend when The New York Times Book Review printed

a gushing review on its front page of a new book of

previously unpublished work by Elizabeth Bishop,

edited by Alice Quinn, who clearly has better things to

worry about then whether some stupid fucking waiter

thought Poetry was Dead, kinda.

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