1st Honorable Mention: “Stage Four” by Jackie McManus, Lyle, WA
2nd Honorable Mention: “Someday” by Mary Theis, Talent, OR
3rd Honorable Mention: “Unraveling” by Norm Baxter, Salem, OR
In reading this year’s batch of poems, I was stirred with how, throughout the whole of these poems, resounds a clear and overarching note of loss. Here, I found the intense, private grappling with loss & what comes after, where “lightning strikes/ a wilderness inside”: the searching for understanding, the prayer, the yearning, the rage, the heat & staggering, the honoring, the meaning-making, the blossoming & catharsis that it is to write poetry—the response to loss. The burdens of the body & spirit—and our hopes—held on these fragile pages. Poetry can do that for us, can remind us “of the invisible forest that / once stood here.” I think of the words of Bertolt Brecht:
In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.
I wish I could sit with each of these writers and read their tea leaves, hear their stories, read more of their work. It’s an honor to receive these voices and a blessing to know they are in the world.