responding to Eileen some more
Eileen is asking some questions about merit, awards, prizes, judgement, quality, grading. She's using a combination of two scales on the mss. she reads: letters (five point, though apparently recently expanded to six point) and checks (3 point).
She's also talking about giving the experience of reading the poetry primacy. Super.
But, what will the difference mean once she must choose from the winnowed wheat? I'm assuming she'll have about 15 mss. to read for the prize (4 from 25); judges who don't read them all read anywhere from 10 - 20. I think Eileen wll pick the one she thinkgs is the best, but -- the best why?
Now, usually we ask, the best how?
But between a few manuscripts, I'm assuming some will be very different from one another, and others will be similar to others in tone, scope, approach, use of source, relation to audience.
But in top secret conversations with judges, some will conclude: these are all worthy.
This one will help the press most. It is the best.
This one shares formal or subject concerns near and dear to my heart; it moved me more intellectually and emotionally than the others, and from a field of excellence, this one is the best *in my opinion.*
This is the most ambitious one; this poet could use the prize more than the others, etc., etc.
And I'm trying to reduce the more po-biz heavy slant I've had on this in the past (while I rarely enter contests, I won't enter them at all if I don't know who the judge is, except, from time to time, the nps). I think it is actually more ethical to say, ok, these are all ones I would publish. Rather than leave it to some sort of chance operation, I will choose among them with a motive.