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.

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