Max'd Out

I first met Max Ritvo on the page, in the winter of 2013. I was in my office at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and his M.F.A. application was in its green folder, among the hundreds of other green folders, anonymous in their likeness—from the outside. Admissions is a daunting process each year—joyful, dreadful, exhilarating, overwhelming. My colleagues and I tend to stay up all night on the first cut; delirium sets in after the first twelve hours. We are in the business of hunting for truffles, ever on the alert for something that stands out—a sudden manuscript of poems that entreats, intrigues, or one that just gives off heat, or even electricity.