Given the wealth of incredible poems submitted to Poet’s Choice this year, selecting only six was a struggle. So many more deserve to be honored.
Naturally, we all carry personal preferences in terms of themes and structures. Given the subjectivity of how one mind experiences a text, we often tend toward a certain “kind” of writing. Personally, I find most resonant poems that say a lot in few words. I adore poems that imply a larger context, that give me just enough information to recognize the world (or myself in the world, or both) but leave enough open to interpretation that I can make the poem my own. I tend toward poems that explore rather than define.
A few vital ingredients to most poems that keep me up at night and beg me to return to them over and over again include: dynamic imagery, ambiguous language, rising tension, surprise, thematic conflicts and contradictions, and a sense that every single word matters. All six of these profound, moving poems inspired me. They stimulated. They emphasized conversation over didacticism, allowing me to encounter them on my own terms. They all shocked me with their potent images and surprised me with their turns and transformations.
And they accomplished this via such diverse methods.
—John Sibley Williams
1st Honorable Mention: “Awaiting the Child” by Carol Ellis, Forest Grove, OR
2nd Honorable Mention: “I.” by Tamarah Rockwood, Bainbridge Island, WA
3rd Honorable Mention: “I Want to Speak Norwegian” by Linda Ferguson, Portland, OR