2017 Spring Contest, Theme – Oregon/Pacific NW: 1st Place Winner

These poems were submitted for the spring 2017 contest themed category judged by Charles Goodrich, but were omitted from Verseweavers 22. Any future reprints of Verseweavers 22 will include the Oregon/Pacific Northwest category. They will also be Included in the upcoming Verseweavers 23 to be published late spring 2019.

 

Effigy of a Man
by Nancy Christopherson

What if, for
instance, thoughts flew from your mind
like seagulls crying for fish entrails
near a fisherman’s vessel at noon, fog
rolling in. Wouldn’t these be open.
Watch their wings. The boat
rocking gently on swells. Your name
could be Ahab or Ivan or Giovanni,
you might live in Havana
or Vancouver or Odessa. You could
be seventeen or seventy-five. Your sweater
could be dry or smeared with offal.
What can the nets bring toward you. What
might they reveal you don’t already know,
intimately. Your friend at home in his
clean apron setting the small table. Maybe
your mother. The gulls swing and curl
in the mist while the waves slap at
the planks, splash upward in spray.
You toss the bucket skyward.
The gulls swoop in, cry with greedy delight.
This is your one life and you know it.
This evening when you get in
you will scrape out under your fingernails
with your pocket knife, light
the bonfire, watch it burn.

Judge‘s comment: “Thoughts like seagulls” is promising; “thoughts chasing fish entrails” is exceptional. (How humbling to acknowledge our thoughts are carrion eaters.) From there, the playful / serious working out of the hypothesis is intriguing. And, given that the poem is supposed to be a “Pacific Northwest” poem, I like how it quickly flings the geography into the larger realm of imagination. (Aside: ornithologists quarrel with the term “seagull” since there are several gull species that frequent the seashores, and many of them are just as happy far inland.)

Nancy Christopherson lives and writes in eastern Oregon. She is the author of one volume of poetry, The Leaf (2015). Some of her recent poems appear in Helen: A Literary Journal, and in Xanadu Poetry. She is currently at work on three new manuscripts entitled “Canyon Poems,” “While the Moon Floats Ranch,” and “Lungfish Swallow Me Whole.” Visit nancychristophersonpoetry.com

2017 Spring Contest, Theme – Oregon/Pacific NW: 2nd Place Winner

These poems were submitted for the spring 2017 contest themed category judged by Charles Goodrich, but were omitted from Verseweavers 22. Any future reprints of Verseweavers 22 will include the Oregon/Pacific Northwest category. They will also be Included in the upcoming Verseweavers 23 to be published late spring 2019.

Writing on Rivers
by Steve Jones

Coming into the room in a rush,
my students gently tease me:
SR, are we going to write
about rivers again today?
How people have forever camped beside rivers,
and how many different rivers
we’ve “gotten on our skin”––
even after we’ve spoiled them with affluent,
how rivers served as first highways,
how anadromous fish migrate full-length,
how obsidian cobbles and grains of sand
travel hundreds of miles to oceans and seas?
How we so often slake our thirst
at these snowmelt streams,
how rivers flow beneath the river
and how ancient stories tumble along
with the riverine winds?––other students ask.
How rivers become estuaries,
and how rickling water plays songs?
How standing water is a constant,
while rivers are a study in change?
Students continue teasing me as they take
their seats and begin to write
a river of freewritten words, stopping
occasionally to shake out a hand cramp
and then flowing on.

Judge’s comments: I admire the many ways the writing here mimics the rushing, pool-and-drop of a river. Each clause is a tumbling cascade followed by a full stop/question mark, and a slack water pause. The author smuggles in a lot of insights about human-river relationships, too. And the neologism “rickling” fits.

Steve Jones co-directs the Oregon Writing Project Collaborative at George Fox University, meets weekly with a poetry writing circle and husbands a thirty-acre Oregon woods.

 

2017 Spring Contest, Theme – Oregon/Pacific NW: 3rd Place Winner

These poems were submitted for the spring 2017 contest themed category judged by Charles Goodrich, but were omitted from Verseweavers 22. Any future reprints of Verseweavers 22 will include the Oregon/Pacific Northwest category. They will also be Included in the upcoming Verseweavers 23 to be published late spring 2019.

Friday Afternoon
by Michael Hanner

After making love
we lay there catawampus,
adrift in the rumpled cotton dunes.
Above the half curtain
gray sky and upside down
the top of a Douglas fir swaying.
Crows grasp upper branches
to arrest themselves
lest they fall further into the sky.

Judge’s comment: I like the artful topsy-turvying of both physical and psychical space here, the interweaving of indoor and outdoor landscape, the playful reflections of humans and birds, sky and earth. A lovely derangement of the senses.

Michael Hanner is an architect whose poems are found in Nimrod, Cloudbank, Mudfish, Rhino, Southern Humanities Review, Gargoyle, C.A.B., Cascadia Review and others. He is the author of chapbooks: Palm Sunday, Winter Dreams, The Architecture of Holland, Confessions of Autumn and Avenida Uriburu. His books are Vivaldi, an autobiography, 2012, October, 2015 and Adriatica, 2016. He has written non-fiction articles for several periodicals and a guidebook, Le Bugue, Black Périgord & Beyond under the name Forbisher Mandangle. He loves Toni Hanner plus travel, gardening, irony, English croquet, French cooking, Argentine tango and photography.