2018 Fall Contest, Theme – Harvest, Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:
1st Honorable Mention: “The Sugar Cane at Harvest Bears Witness” by Nancy Flynn, Portland, OR
2nd Honorable Mention: “A Little Thanksgiving” by Leah Stenson, Portland, OR
3rd Honorable Mention: “Fruit Preserves in Glass Jars” by Nancy Christopherson, Baker City, OR

Judge’s comments
Sixty-odd poems. Some I surmise were written specifically for the contest. There were epics—as epic as one can be in 40 lines—of harvest scenes, as detailed nineteenth-century landscape paintings. First honorable mention “The Sugar Cane at Harvest Bears Witness” is a sestina retelling an event that began the Haitian Revolution. Vivid descriptions and language. “A Little Thanksgiving” cleverly follows the path of an apple through many hands on its travels. “Fruit Preserves in Glass Jars” combines a cook’s reminiscences of seasonal cooking with a conversational tone. It also has my favorite line of all the poems in this category, “The oranges flew all the way from Florida on their own wings.”
—Michael Hanner

2018 Fall Contest, Traditional Form – Rondeau, 1st place

In Flanders’ Yard
by Dan Kaufman

In Flanders’ yard, Ned blesses weeds
with Rod and Todd, his Christian seeds,
  while neighbor Homer, his boy Bart,
  mow moral corners, belch and fart.
“Okily dokily,” Ned concedes.

The Simpsons conflict mostly leads
to bedlam at cartoonish speeds.
  Yet here dwells peaceful counterpart
          in Flanders’ yard.

Ned’s live-and-let-live neighbor creed
blooms from his daily Bible read.
  Though next door scams plot to outsmart,
  Ned cultivates “forgiving heart.”
It seems the meek indeed succeed
          in Flanders’ yard.

Judge’s comments
“In Flanders’ Yard” really had fun with the form, paying homage the famous rondeau “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae and shaking up expectations regarding the form. It’s surprising, funny, and tightly crafted.
—Angela Decker

Dan Kaufman has made his home in southern Oregon since 2013. An active member of the Rogue Valley poetry community, he has been a featured poet at the annual William Stafford Celebration. His work has appeared in Jefferson Journal, anthologies, and been recognized by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and the Oregon Poetry Association.

2018 Fall Contest, Traditional Form – Rondeau, 2nd Place Winner

Affannato
by Mikaela Curry

Grief, a songbird in hidden heart
sorrow tempo, overture start
melody on exhalation
finding breath a new causation
acoustic anguish to impart

aching notes upon her chord chart
the beat your blood, your tune her art
distress, yet too love’s ovation
                  Grief, a songbird

each dawn comes chance for some restart
then comes the song, you cannot part
both cage and crowd, captivation
same reprise of realization
ringing rhythm of aching heart
                  Grief, a songbird

Judge’s comments
“Affannato” offers a surprising image of grief, with language that is smooth and lyrical.
—Angela Decker

Mikaela Curry is a published poet and community organizer living in eastern Kentucky, where she founded and manages a community poetry organization. She regularly performs spoken word poetry which reflects her passion for social justice and has performed alongside influential activists Angela Davis and Rev. Dr. William Barber II. Her work has been featured in exhibits and symposiums and has appeared or is forthcoming in Panoply, Eclectica, Balancing the Scales, and Meat for Tea.