We have our [adjective] winner!

The Anne Carson Mad Libs contest has come to a close, and I’m here to announce the winners. First, a quick rehash of the contest itself: for a chance to win Carson’s stunning new book-in-a-box, Nox, I asked people to fill in the generic parts of speech–adjective, noun, etc.–I’d interpolated into some of Carson’s translations of Sappho’s fragments.

I knew from the start that I’d set a tough assignment–and the results bore me out: we received only two entries, but both were very strong.

If you want to see what materials our entrants were starting with, you can take a look at the Mad Lib itself in the original post. And now to the first entry, from Eduardo X:

} quit
}shiftswift hips out
}luxurious woman


}ball frequently
} check for those
I treat well are the ones most of all
} they harm me
} chase feet crazy

} yes you a child once
}crow flap come sing these things
}black wing swing back talk to us, give us your

} She hiccups beautiful he
} sickeningly stirs up still things
} until chunks erupt slowly from exhaustion the mind
} mockingly settles down
} bouncing diaphragm bounce but come O beloveds
} giddy for day is near

Some really sharp lines there, no? “shiftswift hips out,” for example,  is so tightly made it’s nearly palindromic in sound and appearance. I’m particularly fond of the closing lines of poem 3, which Eduardo transformed from

}[adjective] [noun] [verb] [preposition] talk to us, give us your



}black wing swing back talk to us, give us your


And now entry number two, from Damion Searls:

}drips silver tap down
}luxurious woman


}story frequently
}occurs for those
I treat well are the ones most of all
}who harm me
}need things crazy

}yes you a child once
}hands pick come sing these things
}all evening stared at talk to us, give us your

}you turn beautiful he
}later stirs up still things
}from the northwest swayed and leapt from exhaustion the mind
}on the way down settles down
}peaceful day, said but come O beloveds
}as for day is near

Poem four in particular hangs together impressively: the sound of the simple “you turn” that opens the poem, jibing sonically with “beautiful,” prepares us perfectly for the way that Searls draws the consonance and the insistent meter of the second line down into and through the third, building drama until he sighs us into the “peaceful day.”

And Searls did all this while going the extra mile. He explains,

Each mad-lib word in poem 1 is that part of speech, in order, from the first poem in Carson’s first book of poetry, in poem 2 they are from the second poem in her second book, etc. (Some fudging around definition of what is a “poem” and so on.)

Now that’s hardcore; such over-the-top dedication–when coupled with strong execution–is sufficient to make Searls the winner. Congratulations, Damion: a copy of <em>Nox</em>, courtesy of New Directions, will be winging its way to you as soon as you get me your address.

That said, I feel that Eduardo X shouldn’t go away empty-handed. A consolation prize is in order. So, Eduardo, if you’ll drop me a note at levistahl AT gmail, I’ll send you a copy of Carson’s volume of Sappho, if you don’t have it, something else if you do.


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