In the past few months, Bruce Smith’s Devotions has been nominated for the National Book Award (which went to Nikki Finney, for Head Off & Split), the National Book Critics Circle Award (which just last night went to Laura Kasischke, for Space, in Chains), and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (which will be announced on April 20). One of Smith’s previous collections The Other Lover (2000) was a finalist for both the National Book Award (taken home by Lucille Clifton’s Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000) and the Pulitzer Prize (awarded to Stephen Dunn’s Different Hours).
Phew. Bells and whistles. The list of also-wrotes? Those Pulitizer- and NBCC- and NBA-finalists who came so unnervingly close but just didn’t make the cut? What company to be in! Jean Valentine, Franz Wright, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, James Merrill, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Harryette Mullen… .
This isn’t a pity party of a post, that’s for certain. I comb Google for a mirror image: Bruce Smith and Bruce Springsteen, each eating ice cream; I glean all the disambiguation pages for Bruce Bickford. I read up on the translator Bruce Benderson and wonder why I feel such a pressing need to channel in name only. I stumble on to the story of Bruce Boston, an American speculative fiction writer, who has won the Rhysling Award for speculative poetry a record seven times. Eventually I land on Bruce Broughton, a composer of soundtracks for film and television, and I stay for a while. Broughton composed the score for Silverado (1985), a Lawrence Kasdan-scribed Western that unfortunately opened the same weekend as Back to the Future. The soundtrack was initially released by Geffen Records in 1985; in 2005 (time—it doth age us all), Intrada Records released an expanded, two-disc version of the score. At the Academy Awards twenty years earlier? Broughton lost out to John Barry, the composer for Out of Africa.