The winner of the quarterly award for the Winter issue was chosen by David Horowitz, poet and founder of Rose Alley Press, which publishes books of formal poetry. He has been a Lyric contributor for over 30 years and we are delighted to share his choices and comments, which follow:
The Winter 2021 issue of The Lyric features many fine poems deserving rich reward. There is so much to like: John Byrne’s blend of romanticism and gentle wit; Vadim Kagan’s humorous love/hate relationship with New York City; C.B. Anderson’s remarkably skilled enjambment throughout the wonderful sonnet “She Won’t Be Coming in Today”; and so much more!
But I will focus on two poems: my choice for First Place, “Archer Pose” by John W. Steele and my Honorable Mention, “Closed” by Dorrith Leipziger. “Archer Pose” illustrates a perfect poetic marriage of form and subject: the sonnet form embodies the graceful discipline of either an actual archer or a yoga practitioner in archer pose. And after all those taut, disciplining instructions—release: “let the arrow sail.” And, likewise, what a compelling last line in Dorrith Leipziger’s “Closed”: “I’ve shut my doors.” Here also is a perfect blend of form and subject: note how each stanza ends in a terse dimeter line after a middle line of chatty tetrameter. A reader can feel that door being shut as the narrator leaves each successive lover.
Like the winning sonnet in the Winter issue, you will usually find a generous sprinkling of sonnets in our pages. Today it was a pleasant surprise to find a lengthy article on the history of the sonnet featured on the opening page of our browser! Apparently, although Petrarch is credited with its creation, Giacomo da Lentini, who lived a century earlier and was notary for King Frederick II of Sicily deserves the credit. The sonnet has deeper roots in history, according to the authors. Long before da Lentini the neognostic Cathars, in their Occitan language shared similar forms with troubadours from Languedoc. At that time, flaunting Catholic church doctrine was severely frowned upon; indeed the Cathars were targeted and exterminated. The proto sonnet forms of their poetry and songs were expressions encoded to escape notice.
For those of you who frown upon the word “browser”(Ah fellow Luddites), you know of course that we welcome postal submissions, computer printed, typewritten, or handwritten. And here is a semi secret postal opportunity: the Ohio Poetry Day contests which is overseen by Amy Jo Schoonover, a longtime Lyric contributor, shares your digital aversion. Although it is late for this year to enter (May 15th postmark), you may still attend 84th Annual Ohio Poetry Day in October by writing to Amy Jo Schoonover, 3520 State Route 56, Mechanicsburg, OH 43044. It is a nationwide contest, with many opportunities for entries, but you must enter by USPS. Or…..(La La La I can’t hear you!)—-for information, go to your browser and type www.ohiopoetryday.blogspot.com .
Speaking of submissions, by email or USPS, dear poets, please take care to write your name and address on each poem you submit. Like toys that come to life late at night your poetic children sometimes become intoxicated by their own collective inspiration and fly around the office unattended after hours. In the morning distraught editors, even post caffeine, are unable to ascertain their authors without these necessary clues.
We are pleased to offer you these poems for spring reading, dressed in their best and waiting between the covers. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope you can, too!