Posted November 4, 2017.

2017 Fall Contest: Poet’s Choice Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:

1st Honorable Mention: “Knots” by David Southward, Milwaukee, WI

2nd Honorable Mention: “How we know” by Lois Leveen, Portland, OR

3rd Honorable Mention: “In Rome” by Don Hogle, New York, NY

4th Honorable Mention: “Mr. Stagmeyer’s Typing Class” by Jay Schroder, Medford, OR




Judge’s comments

I found judging the Poet’s Choice category both a great delight and a great burden. A delight because there are so many fine poems to savor and enjoy, such language, surprise, and heartbreak, and a burden because, well, there were so many fine poems—and I had to choose among them! I read the majority of the entries sitting above the Little North Fork of the Santiam, watching between poems as my children skipped stones and gathered river teeth and dared one another to try the icy waters. Though I am always on the lookout for the rhythms and sounds and many technical decisions a poet makes, the poems here that eventually rose to the top for me were those that made a human connection, that made me catch my breath for the narrative power of a last line or wince at the pain carried in a certain image. The three winning poems here are quiet, vulnerable, carefully observed. I can’t say much more than that I was moved, that the winning poems and the honorable mentions—as James Dickey says of the work of the great Northwest poet Richard Hugo—“lift us into a realm where everything is of consequence, which we always knew it was, and never found the means to say it.”

Joe Wilkins

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