Best Way to Prove Your Worth in Verse

Used to be that popularity contests were cut-and-dried: I'm talking Homecoming, Student Council, P.T.A. Parent-Quiche-Recipe-of-the-Month. But once you enter the age in which bragging about the number of your MySpace friends becomes unacceptable, quantifying your coolness becomes a bit tricky. But then there's the 2007 Poet Populist Program. Not only is its name a blatant attempt to cash in on our desire to be arbiters of cool, but it offers poets the chance to get something they've historically been denied: recognition while they're still alive—and for an entire year! Not only do the nominees have to get nominated by a group—e.g., 826Seattle, Seattle Arts and Lectures—but they participate in read-offs around town. The winner gets chosen online by you, the public, before being announced at this year's Bumbershoot, thereby usurping the poetic powers of Jourdan Imani Keith. And if Bumbershoot isn't just another term for Seattle's artsy prom—and if beating 15 others in such a public fashion isn't also awesome—why would anyone even bother with a meritocracy, after all?—Karla Starr

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