The judge for the yearly awards is Lida Bushloper, who sent her choices and comments and even a small poem in response to the task.  She has appeared several times in The Lyric over 10 years and also in Light, The Formalist, Writers’ Journal and Gerald So’s The Five-Two. Her poem sets the stage, followed by her carefully considered choices:

On Judging the Annual Awards in The Lyric 

These decisions weren’t easy 
But some were easi-er 
Some poems echoed in my mind,
Some faded to a blur. 

As I compared my favorites, 
I had to make a choice.
I took each poem as a whole—
Subject, craft and voice

And chose these stellar efforts 
To meet each given qual,
Ruing and regretting that
I couldn’t pick them all.

In general, all of these poems have “flow.” Read silently or out loud, there’s not a hitch or a pause. There is not a single unnecessary word or syllable. The sentences are smooth, neither glib nor forced. Rhyme and meter are nearly perfect, yet not obvious or contrived. 

New England Prize ($50) : “Two Points of View,” by Paula Mahon D’Entremont  Spring, 2020 

I love science and it’s rare in poetry. Here’s a lovely poem about science, relationships, and nature, all at once.  

Roberts Memorial Prize ($100): “Dancing Leaves,” by Marie Arnett Fall, 2020  

Arnett captures so much in so few words: frailty, grit, longing, the obstacles of both nature and modern life (junk mail), as well as the often-complicated relationship between parent and child.  

Honorable Mention : “Expiration,” by Jane Blanchard Winter, 2020 

A traditional sonnet that deals with a modern experience. A perfect expression of the concept of “acceptance.” 

Leslie Mellichamp Prize ($100) :“Plowing the Snow,” by M.T. Jamieson Winter, 2020  

Wow! This poem achieves three things at once: A paeon to an often overlooked “essential worker,“ a complete character sketch of someone you’d like to spend time with, and a vivid sensual image of work and its rewards. Nature is neither reviled nor extolled, just dealt with. The meter is propulsive, the language is robust. One of the best things about Robert Frost is that he writes about ordinary, working folk. This poem reminds me of him. 

Honorable Mention: Unraveling,” by Laura Bonazzoli Summer, 2020 

The villanelle form is hard to do well. This is an excellent use of the form in that the repeated lines suggest how our minds come back to the same paths over and over, so that the form and subject strongly complement each other. 

Lyric Memorial Prize ($100): “Frost Quake,” by Betsy Hughes Winter, 2020 

Another poem that touches on science, yet illustrates the human struggle against both our actual  challenges, internal and external, mental and physical, and also our fears of those conditions. Yet, the message is one of hope, strength and resilience. And all wrapped up in a perfect sonnet.   

Honorable Mention:  “Applied Myth,” by Anna Arredondo Summer, 2020 

Acrostic poems often seem forced or contrived. This one is so natural you can read and appreciate it without even realizing it is one, or even without knowing the mythical basis. The conclusion is an observation of an often overlooked but paradoxical quality of human nature. 

Fluvanna Prize ($50): “Fruit Cocktail,” by Evalyn Torrant Spring, 2020 

Parody is another form that’s hard to do well. This brilliant execution sparkles with sensory details, elevating one of life’s humdrum but perpetual mysteries, and concluding with one of life’s oh-so-common surrenders to the unavoidable.    

Honorable Mention : “Swim Meet, 7-8’s,” by John Wagner, Spring, 2020 

While not “laugh out loud” funny, this wry look at human nature and the accommodations we make with where we find ourselves is amusing enough for repeated readings. I mean, how can you not love a phrase like “a Speedo-ed butt?” 

Fall Quarterly Award  ($50): “Roll Up the Sky,” by Nina Parmenter, Fall, 2020 

So many nature poems extol its beauty, life and majesty. I like that this poem turns that idea on its head and shows nature as dreadful and threatening. In the face of that, I love the self-awareness and the admission of timidity and caution that concludes the second octet. 

Honorable Mention : “Slow Dance,” by Mary Kipps, Fall, 2020 

This poem manages to evoke all of life in these few lines: youth, age, yearnings, disappointments, grief, recovery. The sensory and period details create a perfect image of the scene—physical, temporal, emotional. The simple phrase “their song” reminds some of us of how we once were. 

Thank you so much, Lida for taking such care with your choices and for your commentary in verse as well!

We also have the winners of the 2020 Collegiate Contest to present, with their poems in this issue,  gathered and responded to by our intrepid administrator, Tanya Cimonetti, currently snowbound in the beauty of the Green Mountains.  Our award/scholap winners were

Maggie Palmer , First Prize ($500), a sophomore at the University of Dallas  for her poem, “Many Waters Cannot Quench Love, Nor Can the Floods Drown it”

Jessica Wood, Second Prize ($200), a senior at Hillsdale College in Michigan, for her poem, “Anthropocene,”  written in open couplets

Chidinma Opaigbeogu, Third Prize ($100) , a student at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD for her poem “A Villanelle for the Resurrection Men/A Villanelle for the Desperate”

For Honorable Mention (a year’s subscription and publication on The Lyric website,

Brenna Peterson, a 5th year senior at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, for “Over the Bridge,” an anaphoric poem.

Matilda Berke, from Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, for “Rotary Dial, ” a villanelle

Amanda Trout, a junior at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS, for “A Writer’s Coping Mechanism for Loneliness,” a sonnet

Leann Trout, a freshman at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS, for “Puzzle,” a kyrielle in balladic meter

As Tanya Cimonetti rests in the pristine stillness of Vermont, we have gathered our skirts, like Mother Ginger in the “Nutcracker” ballet, around possessions, books, books, books, ancestral furniture and a hundred years of poetry archives, to land with a plop in Savannah, GA, to try and fit belongings from a large Victorian house into a bungalow.  Not to mention the loud crashing of computers with mailing lists barely retrieved .and postal forwarding fiascos. Our new office assistant, an emissary from Google Don B. Evil was less than helpful, causing poets whose names began with “W” in the fall issue to have their biographies bumped off the final page!  They were; 

Audrey Wells (London, UK) is an academic, who teaches and writes books on international politics at the University of London.  This is her first appearance in The Lyric.

If you don’t know Gail White (Breaux Bridge, LA) and her work, you have not been paying attention. Her poetry has appeared over many years in The Lyric (Spring 2020 most recently) and many other publications, including Measure, Raintown Review, Rotary Dial, and First Things. She is contributing editor of Light (www.lightpoetry and two-time winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.  Her most recent collections are Asperity Street, and Catechism, both available on Amazon.

Lionel Willis (Toronto, Ontario), a long-time contributor, has worked as a portrait painter, biological illustrator, mosaic designer, and college teacher of literature. He and his wife Marjorie have self-isolated and get necessities delivered to the door, resulting in obligatory time for contemplation.  He sends two poems for the times.

Russel Winick (Naperville, IL) recently started writing poetry  around age 65, after a long legal career.  Langston Hughes’ work is a primary inspiration for him.  His poems have been selected for publication by The Society of Classical Poets, Blue Unicorn, Lighten Up Online, Rat’s Ass Review, Snakeskin, WestWard Quarterly, Verse Virtual, and The Road Not Taken. This is his first poem in The Lyric.

But, Ta Dah!  Here is the Winter 2021 issue, offered with hope for smoother sailing as the year unfolds.  You may find some “heaviness” in these pages; that is simply where we are.  Though light and love are inherent in all life, poets swim in the energy soup of the world, finding meaning and metaphor bubbling there.