I am very honored to announce that my most recent book of poems, The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, published by Saturnalia Books in 2010, was chosen by Foreword Reviews as a Book of the Year bronze medalist. Katherine Larson's Radial Symmetry (Yale University Press) took the Gold, and Liliana Ursus' A Path to the Sea captured the Silver metal. These were chosen from a dozen BOTY finalists, including Michael Heffernan's The Bureau of Divine Music and Richard Berlin's Secret Wounds.
I am pleased to find myself in such fine company.
When I learned I had won the bronze my mind went immediately to the 1972 Olympics and Ludmila Tourischeva. Ludmila (just in case you were not around for the 1972 Olympics) was a dignified and mature gymnast on the USSR team,. Unlike her buddy Olga (who admittedly I, too adored), she did not weep/wipe tears away after her uneven bar routine, winning the hearts of millions, along with the judges who the next day grossly inflated her uneven bar scores, permitting her to nab a silver in that event (preposterous when you think about it; she fell off the bars three times during her disastrous routine).
Ludmila did not play to the crowd, was more the graceful grande dame, providing a role model of composure (kinda old school Russian lack of emotion--she did not weep but then again she did not need to; she performed flawlessly throughout the competition, winning the all-around gold metal).
But what does this tale have to do with the bronze? Well, the Russians didn't do so well in the vault competition in 1972 (the East Germans whipped their tails). However, Ludmila managed to eek out a bronze in that event.
I'll be honest with you: a bronze metal is not a gold metal, and this fact sorta bums me out. However, I tell myself, I bet Ludmila did not look her gift horse in the mouth. I imagine she stood on the (albeit lower) podium very proudly, waving her hands in the air, thrilled to bring one more metal home to Grozny.
I am not by any means a Ludmila type (I'm more of a weeping, following, un-grande dame), but the take-away from her story is that she took third place with a smile and a feeling of accomplishment for a job well done, and I am doing my best to do the same.