Second Place: "Self-Portrait in a Concave Mirror" by Alan Tu


Self-Portrait in a Concave Mirror

Last week you said you were reading a book called
“the last avant-garde” so I went to the library and
borrowed it. I really should use my library card more
often as most of my paycheck is spent on books that

I read only once. I wanted to take you out to dinner
tonight but I only had five dollars left for groceries
and though I seriously considered spending those
five dollars on you I ultimately decided that I would

treat you to a nice candlelight dinner next week. For love
can wait but a man’s hunger cannot. So tonight I am
sitting in my room reading about the poets and poetry
of the new york school and I am falling more and more

in love with frank o’hara. I will be looking for his
“selected poems” soon, preferably at the bookstore
because I will probably want to mark it up and you
can’t mark up a library book. I don’t like john ashbery

as much, though his stuff is really quite beautiful
cryptic as it is. There is a wonderful line I just came
across: “New York / Where I am now, which is a
logarithm / Of other cities.” How beautiful is that

metaphor. There is so much spectacular verse in this
volume, in fact it is the quoted poetry and not the prose
that I care about. I could be reading a book of poems
instead of this biography, which would probably be

much more worth my time, though nothing quite
matches the thrill of the moment when I realize that
you have recently read these exact same words which I
am pretending to read so diligently now.