Much gratitude to Paul Malamud, who took on the task of judging the Spring issue. He began appearing in The Lyric when Leslie Mellichamp was editor 25 years ago, and hasn’t opined on the subject of poetry, so now it is delightful to know his thoughts. , For his own work, he has recently published translations in a a recent collection, Old Poems, New Translations (a visually beautiful book, by the way), and a new book of translations, Horace and the French (Kelsay Books). His comments follow:
About a dozen poems in this issue struck me as standing out, and it was difficult to limit myself to a few choices. In the end, I found myself giving a slight edge to verse that is not only technically adroit, but has a point to make about human psychology.
With this in mind, I chose
Mary At Fifteen, by Cleo Griffith, for first prize.
In a short, light hearted, and well written poem, the author portrays the essence of teenage years – acting, in search of the mask that will harden into the adult self.
For honorable mentions:
Sowing, by Anna J. Arredondo. The precise and skilled use of internal rhyme made this poem stand out for me.
Divergence, by John MacLean. A low-keyed description of two boys going down a road talking shows what we all know – it’s the people who come and go that create one’s own evolving realities.
Mother’s Day, by Lionel Willis. This verse zeroes in on an issue that most likely occurs to many: can we justify the care and hard work our parents lavished on us?
Pink Pond Lilies, by Dawn McCormack
This short poem elegantly sums up the way the machine world has despoiled nature, a major theme of poets since the days of the British Romantics.
He noted other poems for particular merit. They were: “After the Last Predicted Apocalypse,” by Judith Werner, “Radiance,” by Karen McAferty Morris, “Train Trilogy ” by Mark Bauer, “Vanishing Acts.” by Marie Arnett,” Two Poets,” by Dorrith Leipziger, and “Zydeco Combo” by Eugene S. Fairbanks.
Coming up soon is the Collegiate Contest for 2019. Please let your talented younger friends and students know that a winning traditionally structured poem is worth $500 and bragging rights for undergraduate students. We have returned to accepting entries by USPS. The email entries made us sigh. It was too easy to hit that “send” button. Please send them to Tanya Cimonetti, 1393 Spear St., South Burlington, VT 05403 by December 1st, 2019.
Maybe nature’s last green is gold, a hue that cannot hold—goldenrod and asters can’t hold though they wave bravely in the meadows here.
August begins the foreshadowing of change. First frost is hovering around the corner. It’s time to make sure you’ve been to the creemee stand and dipped toes in the river, picked the tomatoes, made the pickles, and chatted with the neighbors while the countryside is still vibrant before the shift, bringing beautiful, colorful disintegration. What’s that sound? Crickets! No…..!!
Some words from an old sonnet by Emma Lazarus have been ringing in my head for weeks. We used to sing it in grammar school in chorus and I’m sure you know it, misquoted in the news recently. The lines from the song come from the last five lines:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The lasting imprint on our collective cultural consciousness of stirring words is testament to their power.
Although Leslie Mellichamp is gone, his words have shaped my thoughts. Perhaps you’ll appreciate a poem he left behind speaks to the power of language, reprinted below:
Do Not Waste Your Scorn
If you have seen her flying tresses blown
But once against the moon, the rest is vain
You’ll forfeit all you have or hope to own
For one brief glimpse to fall your lot again.
If you have not—and none can tell you how,
Or what to look for—do not pause to stare:
Turn to the world, kneel to the golden cow,
Or any other god or temple there.
Pile up your treasure, gather in your corn,
command obeisance of a land or town:
They are good games—but do not waste your scorn
On those who sit the night to touch her gown.