Jon used to have this little program going on back in Armenia, The Transcaucaus Wrtiting Olympics, which brought together aspiring young poets/writers and the like all submitting their work for review and then finally being awarded a placement within categories like “Daily Life” or something like that. I know this because I picked up the colorfully designed booklets (of a truck stuck in the snow, if I’m not mistaken) for the damn thing in Yerevan.
Thank any fuckin’ deity you’d like, this doesn’t exist in graduate school. Writing marathons do. You get placed in categories like A, B and C. Unlike undergraduate times , D’s and F’s don’t have place amongst the upper echelon of collared shirts and sweater vests; which is what they might be reading this holiday season, as our thesis equivalent was produced within 1/8 of the time they give us to actually write it in the spring.
Like any noble long distance pursuit of greatness this requires endurance, stamina, and a certain amount of provisions before commencing, as I’m sure all the little kids from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were thinking when writing about their families, school, and communities. Tiny cups of coffee, dolma, cucumber and tomato salads ingested to provide those youngsters with the energy needed to eloquently type, “My school has a pretty gymnasium where we like to play volleyball.” Similarly grad students intake provisions as well, though not so much in solid, but liquid form, infused with various chemicals aimed at stimulating our brains to pen things like, “It is widely know in the literature that … “. and “An often overlooked and neglected area of research in blah, blah, blah.”
One advantage those littel shits have over us in grad school, they don’t have to cite a goddamn thing. Why more than ” ” or ‘ ‘ is required is beyond me. All they need to do is copy and past that sentence into Google to find out where in the abyss of literature it came from – thats what we did.
After any endeavor the winners are praised and losers are shamed in their respective communities. After not seeing their name inked in the category of 1st place for “community life” sympathy may not be found within family circles, but rage. Likewise, failure to achieve in the grad school writing marathon, brings about the wrath via email, and accessing some electronic platform instead of a podium to receive your award or punishment from the powers that be.
So while sitting and pondering about all the garbage I’ve been writing over the past week, I should consider myself lucky it won’t be placed in some colorful booklet, or scholarly journal. Then again it probably wouldn’t be, and I would prefer to have a computer screen tell me I suck instead of my mother. Those little kids in the Caucasus have no place to run and escape, me on the other hand, I’m sitting around waiting for my flight to leave for Tbilisi, Georgia. Guess where after that?