2020 Fall Contest Winners in the Spanish Language Category

2020 Fall Contest Winners in the Spanish Language Category
Judge: José Angel Araguz

First Place: “Sin ataduras / I don’t want to belong” by Ma. Concepcion

Sin ataduras
No quiero pertenecer
quiero ser libre
más allá del amor
más allá de la patria y la familia
sin la soga del ritual
desplazarme en la ingravidez de la niebla
sobre el curso de los ríos
sin prisa
como savia en el tronco de la secuoya
arenas colgadas del viento
arrastrando playas y desiertos hasta las ciudades
al otro lado del mundo.

No quiero ser ave
quiero ser el canto
el vuelo más allá de las alas
libre del mito y del drama
del hombre que quiso volar
pero fue impedido por sus creencias

no quiero una comunidad
una selva de enjambres y manadas
quiero ser la humedad de la lluvia
la transparencia de la gota
el perfume de la rosa y el clavel
ardiente bálsamo de copal
rayo cósmico que remonta el universo
la explosión de la estrella
quiero ser
sin sentir remordimiento por la destrucción
ni ambición por construir más nada.

No la montaña sino la altura
la mirada del águila
no la palabra sino su fuerza
y hacerme un mundo
conjurar al alma
alentar el espíritu hasta su renacimiento.

No quiero ser lo que pienso
la idea no me pertenece
y soy lo que está más allá
de lo que puedo pensar.

I don’t want to belong

I don’t want to belong
I want freedom
beyond love
beyond motherland and family
without ritual ties
smoothly hovering in the weightlessness of the mist
of the fog
over the streams of the rivers
without any hurry
as the sap is in the Sequoia’s trunk
the sands hang from the wind
dragging away beaches and deserts to the cities
of the other side of the world.

I don’t want to be a bird
but the singing
the flying beyond wings
free from the myth and drama
of the man who wanted to fly
but was prevented by his beliefs.

I don’t want a community
a jungle of hives and herds
I want to be the moisture from the rain
the transparency of the water drop
perfume of rose and carnation
the burning balsam of copal
the cosmic ray beyond the darkness of the universe
the explosion of the star
I want to be
without feeling any remorse for the destruction
neither ambition for building more than nothing.

Not the mountain but the highs
the sight of the eagle
not the word but its strength
and build a world for myself
to conjure the soul
to encourage the spirit to a new birth.

I don’t want to be what I think
I don’t own the idea
I am what it is further beyond
my thoughts.

Judge’s Note: This poem is a tour-de-force, working through its turns, seeking deep into its images and metaphors to evoke restlessness. Each leap is ambitious in both sound and sense, making for a captivating read.

Poet’s Biography: Concepción Sámano (Jaral del Progreso, Guanajuato, Mexico, 1971)
She studied philosophy at the University of Guanajuato. She has published: The days of yellow light (2001), Melusina or the perennial aroma of carnations, The darkness of origin (2001), and The body that takes me (2013). She had grants twice by the State Fund for Culture and the Arts (poetry, 2001 and 2003). Her articles and poems have been published in various periodical and independent publications.

Second Place: “Nadie vendrá salvo la muerte / No one will come but death” by German Rizo

El ruido de las guerras avanza
hacia el llanto repentino
resuena una bestia oscura
se adentra sobre la triste lluvia
imposible escapar ante el yugo
que atemoriza su llegada.

Tierra habitada por cadáveres /
aun la noche ametralla
sus últimas ruinas.
El dolor surge de las tumbas/
el llanto es un desorden fallido.

Las luces son una red
de murallas sobre la ciudad.

Conjugar la palabra muerte
es el destierro de cada queja
y las voces arrastran
la soledad de los pajaros.

Sangre /
noticias a merced de una puerta
cuando niños juegan a ser angeles.

El eco es la evidencia
de un disparo sumergido
en el reflejo del polvo.

Habitantes de una sola bandera
llena de preguntas
simbolo enredado en las cenizas.

de una profecia
hasta maldecir las llagas
en la zozobra de una patria.

No one will come but death

The racket of wars advances
towards unexpected weeping
a dark beast resonates
embeds itself in the gloomy rain
impossible to escape from the yoke
that terrifies its arrival.

Land inhabited by corpses /
even the night opens fire on
its lingering ruins.
Pain emerges from the graves /
crying is a broken malady.

The lights are a network
of ramparts over the city.

Conjugating the word death
is to banish every complaint
and voices haul
the solitude of birds.

Blood /
news is at the mercy of a door
while children play at being angels.

The echo is the evidence
of a submerged volley
in the reflection of dust.

Citizens of a single flat
Chockfull with questions

a symbol tangled within the ashes
of a prophecy
until blaspheming the sores
in the angst of a nation.

Judge’s Note: This poem charges forth from its opening lines, engaging a complex message with a determined sensibility. The power of voice here is compelling as well. It is a reflection of mortality at a time when it bears worth reckoning with.

Poet’s Biography: German Rizo, poet and Mexican narrator. He has published: Songs of the soul and life (2014), Under the shadow of the heart (2016), Attract me with you (2017), participated in the anthology: Opposite equilibria, tribute to Federico García Lorca (2015). He has two other books of poetry entitled: The words burn and Footprints burn after the rain.

Third Place: INOCENCIA by Tamara Alarcon Basurto

Porque no ríes mi tierno niño.
Cuál es el motivo de tu amarga tristeza
Tus claros crisoles irritados de llanto
Conmueven mi alma reflejada tu pureza.

Porque no ríes mi tierno niño.
Y te encoges en tu sufrimiento.
De profundos y delicados suspiros
Que no tienen motivo de argumento.

Ya no llores mi tierno niño,
Ven y ríe conmigo tan solo por gusto
Porque eres joven para el dolor puro
Y transparente para el daño justo.
Naïve (Translation)

Why don’t you laugh, my tender child?
What is causing your bitter sadness?
The clear crystals of your eyes clouded by your weeping
touch my mirrored soul with their purity.

Why aren’t you laughing, my tender child?
And why are you shrinking from your suffering?
As your deep, delicate sobs
Seem to show me no reason to fight.

Don’t cry anymore, my tender child,
Come and laugh with me just for fun,
Because you are too young for pure pain
and too naive of deserved punishment.

Judge’s Note: This poem engages its theme in a subtly complex way. I’m moved by its take on and exploration of phrasing and emotional context.

Poet’s Biography: Tamara Alarcon Basurto was born and raised in Peru and has been alone in the United States for a year now. She was introduced to poetry by her godmother and finds it a therapeutic way to release emotions. She currently lives in Eugene, Oregon while attending PCC and the University of Oregon. Her interests include filmmaking and watercolor painting. Tamara’s future hopes include publishing a book of original poetry and using film to explore the power of imagery to convey emotions.

Judge’s Biography: José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks as well as the collections Everything We Think We Hear, Small Fires, Until We Are Level Again, and, most recently, An Empty Pot’s Darkness. His poems, creative nonfiction, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, New South, Poetry International, and The Bind. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence and composes erasure poems on the Instagram account @poetryamano. A faculty member in Pine Manor College’s Solstice Low-Residency MFA program, he is also a member of the Board of Governors for CavanKerry Press. With an MFA from New York University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati, José is an Assistant Professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston where he also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Salamander Magazine.

Fall 2020 winning Poems for 30 and Under Category

Fall 2020 Winning Poems for “30 and Under” Category
Contest Judge: Marilyn Johnston

First Place in 30 and Under – “Matryoshka” by Bailey Thomas

I am many within myself
Ten thousand days vying for influence
Building to a fractured whole.
I feel you in there, small and unsure
Gangly and filled with hope, anger, fear
Just a song or a smell or an image and we are made
One again.
I feel you in the swoop of my stomach
In the stinging in my eyes
In the bittersweet pang within my chest.
I feel your hurt like an echo through time
I see your joy stretched across my face and your
Anger etched into our brow.
With your song upon my lips and your small form
Cradled within my arms, underneath my ribs and
Beneath my striking hand.
How much do I blame you, how much do I thank you, and how much
Do I hold you like someone should have held us?
And when do we turn, each of us into the next, painted faces brightly growing
Identical until we try to look.
Do I hold you too close? Do I let you go too easy? Do I exist if I push you all away?
I laugh at you sometimes and cringe to think
The things you used to wear and the words you thought were real.
I wonder who will laugh at me and hope that they
Remember to be kind to us.
Sometimes, we dream the same dreams, and when I awake for a moment
I forget which one I am, but what I see
Has always been you, and always been me, so there is nothing to prove
How far we’ve come.

Judge’s Note: So much of this poem makes it worthy of a 1st prize. From the first sight of the title, I was drawn into the world of it, the title “Matryoshka” taking me immediately back to this name for my first pair of babushka nesting dolls I received as a child. And even the centered line format seemed to move the lines along, as did the lacquered dolls, as they stacked one into the other. In our present world that often feels unhinged and disconnected, the author’s lines convey promise.

Poet’s Bio: Bailey Thomas is an HR Professional by day and a poet by night (and sometimes also day). Born and raised in Portland, she loves to travel and get inspiration from new places. She is nostalgic almost to a fault and loves to explore themes of memory, childhood, and feeling like an imposter. She lives in North Plains with her partner Matt and their two cat children, Cardamom and Peppercorn.

Second Place in 30 and Under: “They’re Playing Baseball in Korea” by Alex Hart

They’re playing baseball in Korea today.
They’re raking the fields and lifting the tarps
In a silent stadium, a sighing sanctuary,
Its congregation left to imagine homers arcing into
Empty bleachers, those metal pews changing colors
Like stained glass in the dancing light of the Jumbotron…

It’s 2 AM Eastern Time
And the American broadcasters stumble over the
Hangul names like they’re speaking in tongues
But if I close my eyes and listen for the crack of the bat,
It’s like I’m there…
A face among faces,
A body amongst bodies,
A hot dog, a beer passed down the row
Hand to hand
Like some ballpark communion
(This is My bat, broken for you)
The man in black will say what’s fair and what’s foul
While the organ drones on in the background –

Take me there.
Take me to church!
I want to hope again like I used to.
I want to hope like we’re tied going into the bottom of the ninth
With the heart of the order coming up.
I want to hope like we’re one out away from a perfect game.
I want to hope like tomorrow is opening day
With the hallelujahs of the waving masses to remind me
That this is finally our year.

Judge’s Note: This well-constructed poem so effectively captures the passionate followers of American baseball in Korea, as it plays there at 2 AM—the poem, an homage to the empty bleachers. Showing hope for the future, the poet expresses the devotion for a sport that serves to unify us. And even with all that has been lost, using well-crafted metaphor, the poet seems to implore the world to play ball, with all reverence: “Take me to church!…I want to hope like tomorrow is opening day…with the hallelujahs of the waving masses to remind me…”

Poet’s Bio: Alex Hart is a Korean-American poet living in Portland, Oregon. By day, he is a footwear designer at Adidas but, in an effort to stay well-rounded, he has continued to pursue poetry after work. He just finished self-publishing his first ever poetry collection, Neolympia, and with that momentum, he’s excited to see where his next poetry journey will lead him!

Third Place in 30 and Under: “Rebuild with Love” by Sophie App-Singer

my family is so lucky that
i was born in a century where there will always be a pill for my
hurt, a country where my nihilism has become
assent. my mother supports my art because it means change.
for me or america, i’m still unsure, but
every tree knows she grows on stolen land
even if the skinned-knee girl who climbs her doesn’t.
the sky screams my name sometimes, and that’s okay.
we’ve all accepted the roles our skin and circumstance
have made us play. my family is so lucky to be lucky.
we go out to the river. wet moss on our toes.
my father points to a waterbird
like it’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
i haven’t died yet because hope is a radical thing.

Judge’s Note: Both spare and complete, this well-arched poem tells an entire novel in just 13 lines. It shouts out to us that hope is a radical thing, with our skin color and circumstance each still serving to define us.

Poet’s Bio: Sophie App-Singer is a poetess, MCU stan, pastry chef and music lover. Her goal in life is to nudge the world through her writing. She attends high school in Oregon, and has previously placed in an OPA contest, alongside being published in numerous online journals.

Judge’s Bio: Marilyn Johnston is a writer and filmmaker. She received a writing fellowship from Oregon Literary Arts and won a Robert Penn Warren writing competition prize, as well as the Donna J. Stone National Literary Award for Poetry. Red Dust Rising, her chapbook of poems about a family healing from war, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize; and a full collection, Before Igniting, was published in 2020. She has a Doctorate from Oregon State University and teaches creative writing in the Artists in the Schools Program.

Thanks for the honor of selecting me to judge this contest category. It was a privilege!


OPA Spring 2021 Poetry Contest

OPA Spring 2021 Poetry Contest

Contest dates: February 1, 2021 to March 31, 2021


Please remember that if you are not a current member of OPA you must submit your entries through the non-member Submittable portal in order for them to be accepted.

Limit: one entry per category (no duplicates).

1) Poet’s Choice: Limit 80 lines, any subject, any form. Judge: John Morrison.

2) Members Only: Limit 20 lines, any subject, any form. Entrant must be a current OPA member. Judge: Colette Tennant.

3) New Poets: Limit 30 lines, any subject, any form. A new poet is someone with no more than two poems published in online or print journals. Self-published chapbooks and collections count as previous publication. Judge: Clemens Starck.

4) Traditional Form—Dizain: A dizain is a form of poetry consisting of ten lines rhymed in the a b a b b c c d c d format and in iambic pentameter, any subject. 
Judge: John Sibley Williams.

5) Theme—Emergence: Limit 40 lines, any form. Judge: Rachel Barton.

6) Age 30 and Under: Limit 29 lines, open to anyone under the age of 30, any form, any subject. Judge: Tiel Aisha Ansari.

7) Spanish Language: Limit 40 lines, original poem, plus poet’s translation in English of his/her own poem, any subject, any form. Concurso de poesía de primavera del 2021 via Submittable contact contest chair at WHO WE ARE > Contact OPA > Adult Contest Chair.
Judge: Efrain Diaz Horna.


Poet’s Choice: 1st $100; 2nd $50; 3rd $30; 3 Honorable Mentions.

All other categories: 1st $50; 2nd $30; 3rd $20; 3 Honorable Mentions.

All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place poems will be published on the OPA website and in the annual anthology of prizewinners, Verseweavers.

Entry Fee:

OPA Members—Flat rate of $8 for up to seven poems (limit of one poem per category).

Non-members— Flat rate of $15 for up to six poems (limit of one poem per category).

Deadline: Submitted electronically or postmarked by March 15, 2021, midnight PDT. Electronic submissions preferred, see guidelines below.

Fall 2021 Poetry Contest Guidelines

1. Poems must be your original work, unpublished in print (including self-published books) or online, and cannot have been a prior cash winner in any contest. Appearance on personal websites, blogs, Facebook pages, or critique groups does not constitute publication.

2. You may enter one poem in each category without duplication.

3. Simultaneous submissions are encouraged, but entry fees are non-refundable. If your poem is accepted elsewhere, notify OPA immediately via Submittable, or contact contest chair at WHO WE ARE > Contact OPA > Adult Contest Chair or by mail (address below) to withdraw your poem.

4. Format poems in 10- to 12-point font size, Times New Roman or another standard typeface, formatted as .doc or .docx (no PDF).

5. Online submissions at https://opa.submittable.com/submit are preferred. (You can also find this link on the membership page.) The submission title is optional. In the comments field, please include your bio (third person, 75 words or less). In the upper-right corner of every page in your submission, indicate category and your poem’s line count. (Title and spaces between stanzas do not count as lines.) Your name or contact information should not appear on the poems. If entering in multiple categories, all poems must be submitted in a single document. Please use .doc or .docx format (not a PDF file) and put your last name at the start of the file name (e.g., “Smith-ContestEntry.docx”).

6. If unable to submit online, please submit two copies of each poem, one with your name and contact information and one without. On both copies, indicate category and your poem’s line count in the upper-right corner. Mail your entries by March 15, 2021 (postmark deadline) to:

OPA, Contest Entries
P.O. Box 14582
Portland, OR 97293

Entries will not be returned. Mailed entries must include a cover sheet with the poet’s name, bio (third person, 75 words or less), contact information, a list of poem titles, and a check to cover your entry fee payable to Oregon Poetry Association. An email address is required for all entries. No registered or certified mail, please.

7. If you join OPA at the time you enter, you are eligible for the Member rate, and for the Members Only category. (Please use the Become a Member option in Submittable prior to making your contest submission or mail your dues to OPA, P.O. Box 14582, Portland, OR 97293). Include a note in your contest entry stating that you have recently joined OPA.

8. Poems may not be edited and re-submitted; your submission is final.

9. Members Only category: OPA sends out notifications in February, notifying you whether your membership is current or needs to be renewed. Watch for emails or postcards. For questions regarding membership, contact Membership Chair at WHO WE ARE > Contact OPA > Membership Chair.

10. Members may submit up to seven poems, limited to one poem per category. OPA members pay a flat rate entry fee of $8 for up to seven poems. Non-members pay a flat rate of $15 for up to six poems.

11. Winners will be notified in April 2021. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place poems will be posted on the OPA website and published in Verseweavers, OPA’s annual anthology. All rights revert to author after publication. OPA reserves the right to use prizewinning poems on the OPA website, on membership forms, etc.

12. Submissions not conforming to these rules will be disqualified.