Posted November 17, 2017.

2017 Fall Contest Winner: 1st Place, New Poets

Disturbance Theory

at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest

[gview file=””]

Judge’s comments

I thought a lot about meaning as I read these poems. I thought about how language creates meaning, how humans create language, and how, despite how frail the letters words are made of, how inadequate the sounds of words are to represent the wide world, still meaning is made by one person who makes marks on a paper and understood by another person who looks at those marks with her eyes. It was a pleasure to read every poem entered and respond to the images, sounds and intent of each one. In “Disturbance Theory,” language is a torrent, blowing around owls, lichen, trees, punctuation, convention—the poem makes meaning out of a hike in the woods, melting that meaning with ecological data, wild conjecture and a marching-band sound.


Michael G. Smith is a chemist. He has had writing residencies with the Spring Creek Project (Oregon State University) at Shotpouch Cabin and at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Crannóg, Labletter, Nimrod, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Sin Fronteras, and other journals and anthologies. His books include The Dark is Different in Reverse, No Small Things, The Dippers Do Their Part, and Flip Flop.

One thought on “2017 Fall Contest Winner: 1st Place, New Poets

  1. I love the poem on my experience of the first reading. The judge’s follow-up comments do what good criticism does: they help me see more and understand more so I can experience more in what I read. The end game = experiencing the poem differently and thereby loving it more with each rereading. Thank you to both writers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.