2019 Spring Contest, Traditional Form–Ghazal Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Judge’s comments

The ghazal entries arrived on my doorstep while I had the flu. My first reading of these beautiful poems cheered, lifted, and helped heal me—so much wisdom and craft! Such deep feeling and acute intelligence! Because of the high quality of entries, though, selecting the winners and honorable mentions was difficult, requiring many, many close readings. Ultimately, I was drawn to poems that lured—and kept—me in vivid and surprising interior landscapes. The winning ghazals blend longing and resilience, arresting images and new insights. Hearty congratulations to all!

“Albert on a Bicycle: A Ghazal” by Robert Eastwood

As a teacher, I’m partial to poems set in classrooms and faculty lounges. This narrative delights me on many levels. In particular, I’m fascinated by the multiple ironies embedded within and the terrific use of dialogue. I vote for more people talking to each other in poems.

“Be Still” by Nancy Knowles

Wonderful imagery. Quiet profundity. I love the way this poem reminds us to slow down from “chasing grace.” Kudos for yoking “cubicle” and “crucible” and for gorgeous lines such as, “When the comet traces across the night sky, awe precedes wish.”

“Late, November” by Zach Zeman

I keep coming back to the simplicity and tenderness of this brief but touching poem. I admire the speaker’s steady strength in the face of aging and loss. So much is suggested in these twelve lines, crafted with skill, beauty, and abiding affirmation of life.

—Kathleen McClung

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