Why I did not win the Nobel Prize in Literature
Because self-nominations are not accepted.
Because I'm dirty, mean and mighty unclean. I'm a wanted man, Public enemy number one. Understand. So lock up your daughter n' lock up your wife. Lock up your back door and run for your life. The man is back in town. So don't you mess me 'round. 'Cause I'm T.N.T. I'm dynamite. T.N.T. And I'll win that fight. T.N.T. I'm a power load. T.N.T. Watch me explode.
Because I used to be the owner and manager of an automobile dealership in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, called “Saab Cape Cod.” It and I went out of business 33 years ago. The Saab then as now was a Swedish car, and I now believe my failure as a dealer so long ago explains what would otherwise remain a deep mystery: Why the Swedes have never given me a Nobel Prize for Literature. Old Norwegian proverb: “Swedes have short dicks but long memories.” I came to speak ill of Swedish engineering, and so diddled myself out of a Nobel Prize.
Because my amazon.com sales rank, #315, 882, is too high.
Because my poetry is based on the mispronunciation of my name: Javier as have air. (I should say “a mispronunciation” because, although I find have air to be the most intriguing, people mispronounce my name in many different ways. My personal favorite is heavier because it describes me so well. Other acceptable mispronunciations: heavy air, heave air, hey bear, he be heir?, hobby air, j-bear, jay beer, jay be err, ha be a)
Because the U.S. is too isolated, too insular. We don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. Our ignorance is restraining.
Because there isn't much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.
Because they say they have the Heights and we have the numbers. I say we draw the line in the sand: let them have aesthetics; we'll take demographics.
Because I can't write my way out of a paper bag. Believe me, I've tried.
Because Orientalism is back in fashion: The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2008 is awarded to the French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." During the same period, Le Clézio published the meditative essay collections L’extase matérielle (1967), Mydriase (1973) and Haï (1971), the last of which shows influences from Indian culture. Long stays in Mexico and Central America in the period 1970 to 1974 were of decisive significance for his work, and he left the big cites in search of a new spiritual reality in the contact with the Indians. He met the Moroccan Jemia, who became his wife in 1975, the same year Voyage de l’autre côté was published, a book in which he gives an account of what he learned in Central America. Le Clézio began the translation of the major works of the Indian tradition, such as Les prophéties du Chilam Balam. Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue (1998) testifies to his fascination with Mexico’s magnificent past.
Because I have never discovered the origin of all poems. I have yet to comprehend fully how “original” differs from “new.”
Because this insight of the role of bad poetry first came to me as I was considering my own poetry. I realized that the reason my poems are so good is because they are so bad. So yes, my writing shapes my criticism, and my criticism shapes my writing.
Because the poem attributed to me in the Issue 1 anthology is more beautiful than anything I could ever have written.
Because I do not own a tuxedo.
Because It is not the same thing if I sign Javier O. Huerta or if I sign Javier O. Huerta, Nobel Prize Winner. A writer must not refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form. Because to refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal.
Because, as Cubs fans know, there’s always next year.
Because if fame belonged to me, I could not escape her—if she did not, the longest day would pass me on the chase—and the approbation of my Dog, would forsake me—then—My Barefoot-Rank is better—
Javier O. Huerta's debut collection Some Clarifications y otros poemas (Arte Publico 2007) received the 31st Chicano/Latino Literary Prize from UC Irvine. He is also the author of American Copia (2012). A graduate of the Bilingual MFA Program at UT El Paso, Huerta is currently a PhD student in the...