The quarterly award for the Summer issue was chosen by Ann Day, who has been a frequent contributor and previous judge for The Lyric. Ann has been a force for poetry in Vermont for many years, serving in almost every office for the Poetry Society of Vermont, writing a column in the Valley Reporter, and now adding her energy to The Monadnock Writer’s Group and the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. We call her the Jenny Appleseed of Poetry in this neighborhood. Thank you, Ann, for taking the task on short notice! Her comments follow:
Poems have a way of changing shape and content the more one reads (and studies) them. The more I read “Everything I Have” the more it haunts me. I am in that cell. The couplet style emphases each item he lists. Last two lines of first stanza: “a few hygiene items to keep it together/a patched up old bag that won’t last forever” speak so much beyond the cell. The poet’s whole life, even though the prison time is probably relatively short, is well recorded The third verse, 3rd and 4th lines tells of the peace that comes with reflection. The couplet rhyme is powerful here even though this style is normally light verse. Here it is thoughtful and deeply moving. We can all learn from these words.
So I am picking for First Place: “Everything I Have” by Gary Steciuk
Second Place: “Turn“ by Ann Morehead. A well crafted sonnet. I especially like the first six lines of what it is like after “a month of rain…”
Honorable Mentions: “Out Of The Woods” by C.B. Anderson
“Sunset: Last Classical Radio Station in San Diego” by Victoria Mary Fach
“Thirteen Couplets About Time” by Michael Bourgo
“Morning Stroll” by Anna Arredondo
“Sitting in Church Behind the Beautiful Hair” by Barbara Loots
This is a time for reflecting on our blessings! We are ever and always grateful to The Lyric Foundation for making The Lyric financially viable, beginning with Virginia Kent Cummins who created The Lyric Foundation in 1950, insuring that traditional poetry would continue to have a place in the stream of literary culture. She took up the torch from Leigh Hanes who had written in 1929, “(We) remain free of those entangling alliances which tend to undermine the independence necessary for the successful publication of a verse magazine. We do not seek publicity, nor do we indulge in ballyhoo.” Because of Virginia Kent Cummins and several generations of her family, The Lyric has remained free from political and poetic vacillations over the years. We are deeply thankful.
We are not free, however, from Oopsy, Oversight, and Glaucoma, who have lurked in the back office for years. As a result, we must clarify that, in the Spring issue, Daniel Galef’s poem, “Crowhurst to the Sea,” had a one-letter typo that twisted the meaning of line 3 as “Casabianca” became “Casablanca.” No, no, no! Humphrey Bogart had nothing to do with this poem.
Looking back again to the history of The Lyric, another notable Lyric board member, writer and—I believe you call today “influencer,”– Gamalial Bradford wrote in 1929, “Above all drench yourself in life, real people, real things and most real of all in the subtle unfathomable secrets of yourself, for there if anywhere are to be found the secrets of the whole world. “
Now, almost a century later, personal reality, like ballyhoo, has developed somewhat undefined borders. The younger among us live digital lives, more than they occupy the reality of the five senses. Is reality becoming bifurcated in a new way? Is this the reason that young adults, graduating from college, are not adept at functioning in the day-to-day requirements of life in our society? “Adulting” classes in college? I don’t know if we are bifurcated, but certainly bumfuzzled at this cultural development.
But, going back a few million years to a previous reach of reality, when we may have dropped down out of the trees, metaphor became a part of language at some point. We don’t know if the Neanderthals told parables around the fire in the cave, but they must have told stories. Such a perfect vehicle for including multiple meanings/levels of consciousness! Perhaps it connects different ways of comprehending in separate parts of the brain. Metaphor gives the reader/listeners inner space to move meaning through their own personal cosmos. A flexible, elegant tool of communication—no wonder poetry, which connects head, heart and spirit, makes generous use of it.
Hence (that is for you, Michael Burch), without further ado, literary mumbo jumbo, or ballyhoo, are poems of many hues, straight from hearts and minds of poets to your door!