We are grateful to Amy Jo Schoonover, who found time, while juggling her responsibilities for the Ohio Poetry Day, to serve as judge (once more) for the Summer issue. We have had the great pleasure of publishing her award-winning poetry for four decades (!). Her comments follow:
My choice for quarterly prize if “Summer Borders” by Jenni Wyn Hyatt, on page 78.
This is a breathtaking (literally) array of colors, shapes, and scents. Double rhymes aa bb in the beginnings of lines and abcb at the end remind me of a poem I did for The Lyric many years ago. The flowers are seductive for their sound as well as their form: rose, daisy, phlox, gardenia, pinks are all syllables that melt on the tongue. To me the extra rhymes push the tempo to faster reading (no place to stop). ..
I want to be in her garden, especially now my creaky knees prevent doing all that in mine.
A runner-up was “Salvation Creek” by John J. Brugaletta on page 100. How familiar this sounds to the drier parts of the country (not us, this year), where water is more precious than gold. Add to that the rhymed couplets with cross-rhyme into the next couplet, and you have delirium. I shake my head in wonder.
Two more poems of note: Henry Harlan’s “Polly Sylla Bull” on page 95. This is just fun! Phill Huffy’s “Up Words” on page 88 could be describing me with my outspoken disdain for “vertical scenery.”
Included with her comments, Amy Jo sent the 77-pages of poems and contest results, with good poems from the Midwestern states. Quite an undertaking with many judges and entries!
Every year we thank our lucky stars that the Lyric Foundation was established by Virginia Kent Cummins in 1948 and continued by her family through the years. The financial underpinning provided by the Foundation makes The Lyric’s existence possible and gives voice to writers of traditional poetry. We recently found one of her poems from 1954– succinct and pared to its essence— and share it here:
To swift forget a wrong
Is gift I crave;
Forgetfulness is long
Within the grave!
Forgiveness is divine
For all who live;
May it be gift of mine
To swift forgive.
Virginia Kent Cummins
Even though John Nixon’s voice has not been found in our pages for almost 20 years, he was editor of The Lyric for 17 years before Leslie Mellichamp took up the reins, and was a fine poet as well. Sadly, his Summer issue was returned, marked “deceased.” We reached far back into the archives to offer, especially for those who remember him, his poem below:
God and the Rabbits
To the recipients of laurels: bear
In mind that fame extends no further than
The furthest man.
Angels and apes, for instance, will not care
If you traverse a continent between
Breakfast and noon. Nor will
The startled eyes of owls grow wider still
On watching while you re-create a scent
(With the original cast)
From, say, the reign of Clovis. Men may shudder
To see you blast
Your venerable East to utter
Oblivion, pulverize your West.
God and rabbits will not be impressed.
Fall, 1954 The Lyric
I cannot comment on God, but certainly the rabbits continue with their own consciousness and cycles here in Vermont. Here where the four seasons are so visible and tangible, we humans are especially aware of the ebb, pause and rebirth of nature pouring through the senses. Fall’s cold breath is a chilly reminder that Persephone’s world is subsiding and sinking into the earth. Hades, the inner world awakes and calls us. Does that mean we are all going to hell for the cold season? Well, that’s debatable, but winter is fertile ground for poetry at the very least.
Soon the only bright colors will be the red of a passing cardinal against snowy white… It’s a good time to curl up with a book of poetry, and -–voilậ!—here it is!