2018 Spring Contest Winner: 3rd Place, Traditional Form–Sonnet

We Can Always Talk about the Weather

by Alida Rol

 

Bleached coral moans in rising seas, while parched

Lake Chad sighs memories of millet, maize,

and bottle gourds, of homes on unscorched

earth. Daily, somewhere, raging floods rephrase

the mud, emend topography, splinter

lean-tos, drown the hapless, inspire throngs

of refugees. Tainted air, imprinted

with exhaust, dusts our lungs, as metals wrong

the drinking water. On my stoop I trip

over a homeless man who takes the rain,

the cold and heat in stride, breathes the breaths

he’s given and softens what he knows with

a needle’s bootleg dreams. We all need pain

relief, he drawls, to laugh while spooning death.

 

 

 

Judge’s comments

I think every judge speaks to how difficult it is to select poems for a contest. I can only say it again… this was DIFFICULT. The quality of the sonnet submissions was extremely high. Getting down to ten was rough. Going for the final six made me a little nutty. I had to read the final poems at least 20 times to make the final call. I was extremely impressed by the language choice, imagery, and slant rhymes. Many of these poems were an “expansion” of the sonnet while holding true to the form. It was a pleasure to read everything submitted in this contest. All of the finalists pushed the formality and expression. The winning poems showed a daring in theme. Wildly varying, these sonnets were an expression of longing, nature, modern life, and frustration. The sonnet (even when taken to a contemporary level) is a tight form with very little room to maneuver. Fourteen little lines packed a ferocious punch in this contest. I was lost in each of these poems, and the most successful sonnets almost hid themselves. The language concealed the form, and I adored that.

—Amy MacLennan

 

 

Alida Rol traded a career in medicine for a calmer life making poems. She holds an MFA in writing from Pacific University. Her poems have won several awards and have appeared in Rhino, Passager, The Examined Life and Nasty Women Poets Anthology, among others. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

2018 Spring Contest, Traditional Form–Sonnet: Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:

1st Honorable Mention: “For Albert” by Joan Dobbie, Eugene, OR

2nd Honorable Mention: “Death of an Archaeologist” Marri Champié, Kuna, ID

3rd Honorable Mention: “Kaizen” by Sue Parman, Hillsboro, OR

 

 

Judge’s comments

I think every judge speaks to how difficult it is to select poems for a contest. I can only say it again… this was DIFFICULT. The quality of the sonnet submissions was extremely high. Getting down to ten was rough. Going for the final six made me a little nutty. I had to read the final poems at least 20 times to make the final call. I was extremely impressed by the language choice, imagery, and slant rhymes. Many of these poems were an “expansion” of the sonnet while holding true to the form. It was a pleasure to read everything submitted in this contest. All of the finalists pushed the formality and expression. The winning poems showed a daring in theme. Wildly varying, these sonnets were an expression of longing, nature, modern life, and frustration. The sonnet (even when taken to a contemporary level) is a tight form with very little room to maneuver. Fourteen little lines packed a ferocious punch in this contest. I was lost in each of these poems, and the most successful sonnets almost hid themselves. The language concealed the form, and I adored that.

—Amy MacLennan

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 1st Place, New Poets

Coals

by Welkin Azure

 

This time she sits quietly and observes them all at march.

Step-falls a creaking drum, arms swishing become as tongue,

the movement and the gathering bring closer the arrived.

A resembling that there was and that which takes its place.

She giggles now, filling us with want,

desire for the more of this for which we have forgot.

There is always a piece out of place, a moving towards complete

and yet, will never see it, would not know it in our face.

Blackened with worry, anticipating the begin, and again.

There she is, drifting as before, a presence nonetheless.

 

And what of the darkening that is nothing but shadow pass,

a rest. We cannot hold all that burns for too long

as a scorch will occur, leaving tract that which belongs to us all.

Did you see the times that talked with eyes?

The knowing glance replied,

“I think I was off with the evening tide.”

There are these things as there are those times,

and with this a wondering, what is it of this life?

And so to go on with the living, subjecting self to breath once again.

The pause, the moment to reflect and then the next and so on,

yet I thought I remembered a bit more.

Between the in and the out, there is the spark that glows

from above, only seen between glances,

to be left within turned page.

 

 

 

Judge’s comments

The poems in the “New Poet” category were impressive and explored a wide array of themes. I enjoyed reading each and every one, especially in this category. I have a special place in my heart for new poets, because we all have to start somewhere. The poem I chose for first prize, “Coal” is a delicately dense poem with a compelling metaphor about darkness and the journey within that darkness. The poem did a wonderful job of sustaining the metaphorical theme and finding something new and beautiful in each layer.

—Connie Post

 

 

Welkin Azure constructs in a vast variety of mediums and thrives on them being noticed, seen, acknowledged and criticized. She understands that as a verbal culture, what we say defines us, “she said this…”, thus creating an illusion of substance. As new words are learned and new worlds are opened to experience, we evolve, reconstruct, erase and fill in differently. Expression is a constant process of revival, revision and redefining our being AS IS.