Tonight we meet to choose the winner of this year's Floating Bridge Press chapbook award. The editor's committee is a group of seven people, with fairly diverse tastes, and we decide by consensus, so it can be a little like herding cats, if you know what I mean.
It's our tenth year of operation, and like most small non-profit poetry presses, it's a labor of love (we are entirely volunteer-run). The main benefit, in my experience, is getting to read manuscripts (it's incredibly educational), and then meeting the poets we publish: we host a gala reading event for the winner and finalists at Seattle's Richard Hugo House, as well as produce readings throughout the year for the poets whose poems are chosen for the Pontoon anthology.
I have about seven manuscripts I'd be happy for us to publish; and I need to pare it down to about four or five for tonight's voting. One thing I have learned doing this is that the top group of manuscripts are usually all fairly equally good and worthy of publication; and it is a bit of a "crap shoot" which one gets chosen, depending upon a lot of very subjective factors. I joked with one of the other editors that it feels a little like American Idol. She shot back that it was more like Poetry Survivor.