2018 Spring Contest, Theme–Borders and Boundaries: Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:

1st Honorable Mention: “Crossing” by Helen Puciloski, Rainier, OR

2nd Honorable Mention: “Territory” by Cynthia Jacobi, Newport, OR

3rd Honorable Mention: “Unfinished Things” by Marvin Lurie, Portland, OR

 

 

Judge’s comments

I was drawn to the category, Borders and Boundaries, because it is a subject that I ponder often and I often have lived in between places: countries, regions, cultures. These poems didn’t disappoint. The poets explored a lot of ground, figuratively and literally. And it was fun to explore with them.  The poems that really stuck with me were those that took me someplace. The first-place poem reminded me of many Greyhound journeys: “Cross-Country Bus” captured the sounds, and the exhaustion, of those journeys as well as the simple beauty of “moonlit hills rise and fall like ocean swells.”

The poem in second place, “Muggins Discover His New Boundaries,” is a wry look at the joy, sorrow and discovery of the older cat, told with gentleness and humor. I smile every time I imagine the poor “Holstein-spotted cat” sliding down the fence. Third place “Something There Is” just wouldn’t let go and had me caught between perfect clarity and then “that thing you see from the corner of your eye.” The honorable mentions had those specific images that ground a poem, make it touchable and real and, for me, very enjoyable.

 

—M. E. Hope

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 1st Place, Traditional Form–Sonnet

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

by Hanna Litwinowicz

 

I fail to acknowledge the car’s on fire

Got me where I am, radio’s still on

Our parts lacked components the machine required

Perhaps, me and you sweetie, same things gone

No bare-leg runs, daisies cut tac-toe-tics

You didn’t hear my heart across the room

Our love did not emanate love music

No disco lift bullshit, normal doom

Thing is pal, I have wrapped myself in palms

Straight up to heaven with bells on, just me

My warm loud victory, this girl’s psalms

I unbox my limbs, stretch long, strong, fully

These legs along are a far better mode of motion

When sky and road are willing objects of devotion

 

 

 

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

 

 

Hanna Litwinowicz was born in Lawrence, Kansas, but was raised in Virginia. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from SUNY Purchase. She is one of the many Portland transplants raising the rent.

2018 Spring Contest Winner 2nd Place: Sonnet for the 25th Wedding Anniversary

Sonnet for the 25th Wedding Anniversary

by Carolyn Martin

 

She came to me in the rain.

­—James Wright, “Sappho”

 

What a silly thing to do, this Memory

without umbrella or boots, slipping through

the drenching afternoon, reminding me

of early loves I filed away. A few

titled puppy-ish lined with clipped good-byes,

slamming doors, words enraged, hope-shatterings.

A few six-month-stands that did not thrive

in spite of spellbound lips and shudderings

I grew addicted to. One commitment failed.

One if-only. One might-have-been—preludes

to today. Bemused I stroll through fields

of dripping irises with gratitude

to all my left-behinds. Memory sighs,

See. Nothing is appraised the same way twice.

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Assistant Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including Stirring, CALYX, Persimmon Tree, How Higher Education Feels, and Antiphon. Her third collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in 2017.