What a world! What a world! And like the witch in The Wizard of Oz. I feel like I’m melting, melting– Multiple dimensions are closing in. And where the heck is Glinda? There are verisimilitudes, truthiness and alternative facts clouding reality. Truth is becoming a relative commodity. The only solution: speak in metaphor and simile! Or just pull down the window shades and think about something else!
While the world turns (careens), we begin our 97th year of publication with gratitude to Joan Higuchi for her masterful job of judging the annual awards. Luckily, she had just finished her collection, Touched By the Moon, about working as an RN in a state mental hospital, and was willing to wrap her poetic sensibilities around the task. Her comments are below:
The Lyric Memorial Prize of $100: “Breath,” by Lionel Willis (Winter p.9) stoically progresses through a painful, palpable experience up to its devastating ending, leaving me with a tiny footprint embedded in my heart.
HM: “Refugee,” by Jenni Wyn Hyatt (Spring, p. 63) is a carefully constructed pantoum that speaks of the heart-wounding issue facing us right now.
The Leslie Mellichamp Prize of $100:, “After Eden,” by John MacLean (Fall, p. 128) is a muscular sonnet with a timely theme employing explicit language and withering word pictures that stun in an intensely powerful portrayal of greed, ending with a masterful last line.
HM: “Shells,” by Paul Malamud (Spring, p. 64), a bucolic poem using strikingly illustrative language , is a paean to the beauty of its subject.
The Roberts Memorial Prize of $100: “Ab Intrgro,” by Lee Pelham Cotton, (Spring, p. 44), a smoothly flowing sonnet ties an unusual object to its historic past with creatively descriptive language and sensory clues that progress to a satisfying resolution.
HM: “Reverence,” by Leticia Austria (Fall, p. 141), in a lovely tribute to an aging loved one, is a poignant poem with relevance for all of us.
The New England Prize: “Village Concert,” by Neil Ulman (Winter, p. 3) elicits memories redolent of our own treasured holiday celebrations, leaves us wanting to sing along.
HM: “Terms,” by Chelsea Lowe (Summer, p. 93) in clever rhyming couplets echoes the cry of every writer.
The Fluvanna Prize of $50: “Mr. Sloth Extemporizes to His Mate,” by Michael Ferris. While blessing his belly, the subject furnishes a quintessential argument for following the bliss of taking life as it is presented.
HM: “Turkey,” by Cynthia Jobin (Fall, p. 127) is a wry look at the foibles of our holiday traditions’ most accepted symbol with a historic place in our hearts …and on our tables.
HM: “That Darn Santa,” by Ruby Kapp (Fall, p. 136) an amusing jingle resonates like a sleigh bell, successfully selling the author herself.
Fall Quarterly Prize: “Her Absence,” by Frank Salvidio (Fall, p. 124), a haunting song of love and loss uses the metaphor of a crowded room the poet gradually empties out with negative images, just as he is inevitably drains himself.
HM: “Proustian Darkness,” by Carol Frith (Fall, p. 117) is a Terza Rima lament about the effect inevitable seasonal changes can produce on one’s mood.
In addition, we were gratified to receive good traditionally based poems from US colleges and universities and hope that recognition of young poetic talents encourages these and all the entrants to embrace the expressive possibilities of language in poetry. Tanya Cimonetti, with her usual grace, gathered the entries and administered the contest. We had three prizes this year, and two honorable mentions for poems that didn’t meet the traditional threshold, but definitely deserved recognition and are published on the website. The results are below:
First Prize ($500), “Germophobe,” by Emily Dorffer, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, p. 25
Second Prize ($150), “Building Props,” by Michael Laudenbach, College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ
Third Prize ($100), “Dove Decisive,” by Peter Szilagyi, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Honorable Mention: “Like Pablo,” by Caitlin McCann, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Honorable Mention: “The Books,” by Molly Brewer, Southern Virginia University, Buena Vista, VA
Interestingly, after registering for the West Chester University Poetry Conference, I noticed that A. E. Stallings will be speaking. The Lyric published one of her poems when she was a high school senior, so mark well these college poets. They may become well known participants in the poetry world in years to come. Here is A. E. Stallings poem from Winter 1986:
This empty sky
Stretches out beyond the eye.
In such a sea
It is a miracle to be,