The popularity of "American Idol" would seem to confirm that large swaths of pop music audiences prefer "Judging/Competition/Win-Lose/Survivor" thrills to the actual music, and why is it no surprise that a major judge on "American Idol" has no clue and doesn't even know what she's judging?
When "the Contest" (the elated winner, the bitter loser) becomes more important than what is actually being judged, it is inevitable that we have "judges" like Paula Abdul, who, like Jorie Graham, are mired in big, stinky, judging scandals.
There are other similarities, too; both Graham and Abdul are "good people"; they are kind, they love giving praise, and they adore crowning "winners," but if the judge shows no responsibility to what is ostensibly being judged, all this "nice" is merely a cover for damaging incompetence which hurts everyone in the long run.
Both Graham and Abdul have been judged favorably for doing (poetry, singing) what they in turn, "judge," but it's been a long time since Abdul has had a genuine hit, and it's been a long time since Graham has written a good poem.
Abdul was caught on live TV, this week, "judging" a number which hadn't even happened yet.
Graham has been caught (most notably by Foetry.com) giving poetry prizes to students and lovers rather than actually judging contests.
Graham holds the highest academic poetry position in the world at Harvard, and yet she's a scandal-ridden judge, and her actual poetry credentials are weak: she can't write verse like the bards of old, or even write verse like living versifiers, she's never published an essay of note on poetry: theory, history, or any aspect of the art, and today Ms. Graham has been reduced to waging a cynical campaign to save her poetic reputation--by showing how much she cares about the planet. Jorie Graham cares more about global warming than you do, and this makes her not only the best poet, but a terrific judge of poetry, it seems.
After her poetry contest judging scandals, Graham said she would never judge poetry contests again. But now Graham is back as a judge, signing on to judge a big poetry contest. Maybe Graham envies Paula Abdul and all the attention and power judging confers.
Who knows? Hey, you go, girl!
(Foetry friends and foes will remember Monday Love as being a regular on the now-archived Foetry forum.)
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