Third Annual Stranger Genius Awards

I enjoy these things. As a writer I think I am supposed to eschew them and complain about how they distract from the work of writing novels and short stories.

The event took place in a massive stairway. The drinks were at the top and the presentations were at the bottom. When I went to fetch a drink, I found myself getting pushed further and further toward the top of the stairs because there was much circulation and agitation toward the drinks and not much movement at the perimeter of the presentation at the bottom. At one point I attempted to work my way down to the bottom of the stairs but a man in a 1970s leather jacket turned right into me causing me to spill my drink and apologize profusely. And then I had to work my way back up the stairs to get another drink. So I spent a great deal of time climbing up and down the stairs between first and second Avenue.

The reason I enjoy these things is there is a physical crush of bodies that are drinking and talking about various arts world things that have nothing to do with writing. I get to listen to filmmakers talk about film making and publishers such as Thatcher Bailey from Copper Canyon Press and Centrum talk about the strange species of copyeditors who excel at copyediting. Copper Canyon employs a legendary copy editor whose name escapes me. Matthew Stadler, the editor of Clear Cut Press, suggested their be an award for copyeditors, but Mr. Bailey pointed out that copyeditors are demoralized animals living in an age when error in printed matter is a matter-of-course and their passion of lexical accuracy and specificity are seen as a bit musty. They would never stand up to such public scrutiny.

Chris Jeffries and Walt Crowley cornered me at one point to ask if I thought there was a curse on the award. Mr. Jeffries has a long bout of bad luck in terms of his music and work and now works at a nonprofit job that is leaving him penniless and drained. Mr. Crowley didn’t seem so put upon by this curse. He seemed a bit giddy about the idea that there The Stranger had invoked supernatural forces on the artists of Seattle and was crushing them with thousand dollars bills. I like the idea of a curse. You could say that shortly after receiving this prize in 2003 I was imprisoned in the literary bastille of Richard Hugo House. I used to hold my office hours there and look out at the desolate field of mud that has since been transformed (with my freedom) into a pretty, restored civic space.

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