By Ingvar: Trigger walked into the Coffee Emporium, looking forward to an excellent cup of coffee and a delicious grilled synthecheese. What he actually saw was his wife, Coraline Snowflake, more or less dancing around with Barbara Dimatis, whooping with what sounded for all in the world like joy.
He stopped a few steps inside, staring wordlessly at the scene in front of him. A few seconds later. Barbara and Coraline stopped, turned to Trigger and laughed.
“Oh, darling Trigger, Barbara has given me the best of news, POAOU is a finalist for the Best Services prize! This is huge!”
“Beloved Coraline, what prize? And what’s POAOU?”
“Oh, I sometimes forget that you are not as deeply interested in literature, poetry, song and the arts as I am. You remember when we helped Kochs with the Separable Rock? Well, Best Services is handed out by the same organization and at the same ceremony. It’s the prize for the most valued service or services to literature in the previous year. And POAOU is a finalist. This is huge!”
“I am still not sure what POAOU means?” said Trigger.
“Let me explain”, said Barbara, “POAOU is a collective that writes adjacent poetry, reinterprets literature and extends songs. It is a collective of artists from various backgrounds, and they’ve gathered under the name of ‘the Poetry Of All Of Us’, to POAOU for short. And last year, they finally completed their automated context finder, that by automatic means sorts written works into various categories, to give a context in which the work is similar to other things. And that’s huge, and well worth winning Best Services!”
Trigger took a slow, deep breath.
“All of this sounds absolutely exciting. When will we know?”
“Oh,” said Coraline, “the awards will be handed out at SysLiCon in four months.”
“Sheriff Snowflake”, said Barbara, “before I forget, would you like your usual?”
Several months later, as the afternoon turned into evening and it was time to shutter the Sheriff’s Office, Coraline walked down from their apartment above the office.
“Trigger, darling, we should watch the telecaster. The Prizes were announced live just a short while ago, and the signal should be arriving just after dinner. We can watch it as live as possible! It will be so exciting!”
“Of course, beloved Coraline. Prizes on the telecaster it is!”
They sat through the first few winners, before the prizes they were most concerned with were coming around.
“And, next, the Separable Stone Award for Most Obvious Slate For The Exploding Star! It was a tough field this year, but our indefatigable panel went through the entire shortlist. Among them, one slate in particular caught their attention. And, without further ado, I present the Separable Stone to Slem ven Pocketry, for his tireless pumping of Venusian Sulphur Poetry! Understandably, he has chosen to not give an acceptance speech, but we will forward the award to his current permanent residence.
“Finally, and with extreme joy, we come to the Prize for Best Service to the Poetic Arts. Again, the field this year was, as always, completive and it was quite hard to decide from the shortlist who was best placed to receive the award. But our illustrious voters managed to crown a winner. And this year’s winner of the Systems Literature Convention for Best Services Award is… The Poetry Of All Of Us! Accepting the prize on the collective’s behalf is Natalia Newbay. Natalia?”
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! It is with great joy I am standing here. I have been part of the POAOU since about a month before the collective was formally convened. I think what POAOU do is brilliant. And I am so, so happy that the SysLiCon membership have graciously agreed that POAOU is worthy of the Best Services award. Naturally, I am not POAOU, since it is, indeed, the collective all of us. But I doubt I fail to speak for any of us, when I say ‘Thank you!'”
“And, with that, our final prize for the evening has been awarded. What remains is simply saying thank you to the SysLiCon committee, without whom we would not be here. And a big thank you to all attending and supporting SysLiCon members, without whom we would not know what we would’ve done in the ceremony that is now coming to an end. I have been your host, Ioannis Ruste.”
Coraline turned to Trigger, “POAOU won!”. Trigger was not entire sure what to say, when there was suddenly a sharp knocking on the front door.
“Beloved Coraline, here’s someone knocking on the door. I need to answer it, in case it is urgent.”
Trigger hurried down the stairs. Not quite a run, but definitely fast-stepping down the stairs. He unlocked the three locks, and lifted the bar blocking the door.
“Just about to open! Please refrain from knocking, so you don’t hit a lawman!”, he shouted, just as he pulled the door open. Standing on the porch outside, Barbara Dimatis was actually bouncing up and down, squealing with delight.
“Did you hear? Did you hear? POAOU won! I must speak to Coraline, at once! It is so exciting!”
“She’s upstairs, please come in.”
Olaus Frond woke up, and checked the announcements from yesterday. The Prize for best Services to Literature had been announced inconveniently late, after Olaus’ accustomed bedtime. But that meant he could break fast and take part of the news at the same time.
Mr Frond was a long-time contributor to, and member of, the Poetry Of All Of Us, and he had hopes, nay a strong wish, that POAOU had indeed managed to take home the prize. It would be an unprecedented first, as he was sure that the literature world at large sneered at POAOU and their mission of bringing, extending, explaining, and exploring context in literature was childish and foolish. Well, at least that is what many said, and he had no wrong reason to doubt it. It was a well-known fact after all.
He started on his toast, with mild cheese and the best synthetic Martian orange marmalade. Just a thin smear, enough to bring some citrus to the cheese, but not so much that it was overpowering. Then he brought up the news from yestereve.
“We won!”, he thought. “We actually did it! This is a system first. I must immediately write a letter of comment!”
The Poetry Of All Of Us – an unprecedented victory
By Flapping-in-the-wind Leaves
Yesterday, we saw something wonderful. Together, we have pulled off something unprecedented. Together, we have made the Poetry Of All Of Us into a prize-winning literature collective. This is something that none of would have dared dream of, only a decade ago. But, by our collective expertise, effort and guidance, we have created a context-extraction machine of unheralded power. It is only because of all of us that we have achieved this. So, say together with me, sisters, brothers, siblings. We won! We have done it! We made the Poetry Of All Of Us what it is. Rejoice!
As Trigger entered the Coffee Emporium, Barbara Dimatis came up to him.
“See, Sheriff Snowflake, they’re still at it!”
Trigger hummed non-committaly, as Barbara places a print-out in front of him. He scanned the plastisheet.
Why POAOU’s win is important
– Godrune Schutler
Today, I woke up to the news that I am 0.0000435% of a winner of the Exploding Star Prize for Best Services. This is clearly something to celebrate! I will do this by spending 0.0000435% of the year crowing my win to the skies, and maybe have 100% of a glass of Champagne. I hope everyone else who is also a partial winner will join me in celebrating our new, exalted, status with the seriousness that it requires.
Trigger put he sheet down.
“Miss Dimatis, I fear you are over-reacting. This is clearly someone writing in jest and there is no way you can consider this a smear on the dignity of the Exploding star?”
“But! They’re joking. About the Exploding Star!”
“Which, surely, is allowed. Do you not remember that Martine E. E. George hosts a Brown Dwarf party for everyone who was a finalist, but did not win? Is that not poking fun at the Exploding Star? It definitely feels as if this super-small fraction joke is merely in the same vein. To me, at least.”
“But! The dignity of the…”
“Brown Dwarf party. This is clearly no different. Dear Miss Dimatis I beg you to stop trying to find outrage in everything people of the POAOU do.”
Charles Tayroth woke up, head spinning. Only yesterday, it had been announced that his context-extension had won the SysLiCon prize for best. It would certainly not have happened unless for him. It was time, therefore, to shout his victory from the rooftop. Or, at least, updating his social media profiles, all over the place.
First, time to put an update on ShortCom, the interplanetary service for extremely short letters-of-comments. Only 140 code points allowed.
“@TheRealTayroth: Yesterday, I earned my first well-deserved SysLiCon Prize for Best Services. I am the best.”
Then, time to update his profile.
“@TheRealTayroth – Business man, leader, master of the shuffle – Exploding Star Winner”
Almost done. What was that? Someone complaining about Charles talking about his well-earned victory?
“@TheRealTayroth: Did too! POAOU would not have won without me. I *am* a winner. So there!”
Nothing would spoil this glorious day, it was truly time to bask in the glory of being a winner. It was probably time to jazz up a lapel pin, a tie clip and possibly an embroidered linen shirt, proclaiming “Charles Tayroth – Winner”, over the Exploding Star logo. And, maybe, in white, on a stylish, brightly coloured fedora.
Almost a week into the win, and Barbara Dimatis was almost regretting that POAOU had won. Too many people were simply not taking the orbit-shattering newness of POAOU’s win with the seriousness that it should earn. Was it not enough to say “we, the collective, won”? Must it always be turned into the personal? Or the comedic? Sure, in the most technical sense possible, she was herself a 0.000003017% of a prize winner, but why was it not enough to say “POAOU won”?
She would write to the Exploding Star committee and ask them to talk to POAOU’s board, to make sure this all stopped.
Yes, that would be a good thing, with no possible drawbacks.
The Poetry Of All Of Us letters-of-comment section had a new post. Unusually, it was from the board. It read:
It has been brought to the board’s attention that some members of POAOU are calling themselves winners of the Best Services to Literature Prize. As a matter of fact, the prize was awarded to POAOU, not to any specific individual. We have been asked, and now ask all of you in turn, to please not drag the POAOU’s glory in the dirt by referring to yourself as a winner of the prize.
Also, please don’t sell merchandise with the prize’s logo in your march stores. It is trademarked, and if you do, people will have to come after you for it.
Sorry to be buzz-kills, we wish we didn’t have to.
— The Board
“No, I think you’re cherry-picking data, Barbara”, Coraline said. “I think it’s an extremely small minority that are saying ‘I won’ in all seriousness. Yes, there are many people that have put it in their social media bios, but so far I have only seen one that actually seems to believe it.”
“Who? Ah, TheRealTayroth? Yes, he seems to actually believe it would not have happened without him,” Barbara responded.
“Yes. And looking at who’s been saying things, I think what you’re seeing is a digging-in of metaphorical heels, and a circling of the wagons, as it were, to show collective strength in the face of opposition.”
“But! They’re wrong!”
“No, they’re speaking (or typing) from anger. I think everyone who’s put down an indication of a small percentage of a win, is doing so in surprise that POAOU won, and use this to show pride in the win. Not to actually pull the tail of the prize, as it were.”
“So, a sign of respect?”
“Of sorts. It’s probably also the case that most POAOU members don’t realize how small the voting contingent for the Best Services prize is. There’s, what, 300 million POAOU contributors? And about 4,000 voters. So, they probably do see themselves as the downtrodden minority, because in general they probably only know 10-15 other POAOU contributors personally, so it feels like a small group.”
“That might be true. So you are saying I shouldn’t be angry?”
“No, I am saying that expressing and feeding your anger is not a useful endeavour. And if all of us stop being angry, maybe all of the other us stop being angry as well.”
“Thank you, Coraline. Would you like to come over to the Emporium, for a cuppa on the house?”