Spring, 2021, Adult Contest-Winning Poems, Spanish-Language Category

Spring 2021 Adult Contest Winning Poems for the Spanish Language Category
Judge: Efraín Díaz-Horna

“Recuerdo haber escuchado que un buen poema tiene la gracia de invitarnos a bailar, a pensar o a luchar con la ambiguedad de las palabras. El poema nos invita a destilar la esencia, el mensaje, de la ofrenda que nos hace el poeta. Los poemas que he tenido el placer de leer y evaluar – los leí varias veces, en silencio y en voz alta – que resonaron en lo más hondo de mi ser produjeron en mi las ganas de bailar, reflexionar y pugnar con la incertidumbre de las palabras.

“Escoger los tres poemas que más me gustaron fue un duro dilema para mí.” Efraín Díaz-Horna

“I remember hearing that a good poem has the grace to invite us to dance, to think or to fight with the ambiguity of words. The poem invites us to distill the essence, the message, of the offering that the poet makes to us. The poems that I have had the pleasure of reading and evaluating – I have read them several times, silently and aloud – that resonated in the depths of my being, produced in me the desire to dance, reflect and struggle with the uncertainty of words.

“Choosing the three poems that I liked the most was a tough dilemma for me.” Efraín Díaz-Horna

First Place Spanish Language: “Entre paréntesis” by Nitza Hernández

Se ha colocado entre nosotros un signo de paréntesis
con su curva de entrada y la de cierre
(una para ti y otra para mí) en tiempos de espera en silencio
para expresar lo que (a veces) no podemos decir con nuestras voces
dar sentido a lo inconcebible.

Un paréntesis para repetir el recuerdo
de un aguacero cadencioso en el Caribe (en temporada de sequía)
anhelando derramar su agua cristalina refrescante en nuestros cuerpos.

Un paréntesis inesperado nos ha llegado en tiempos de pandemia.
¿Querrá recalcar la incertidumbre del mañana?
¿Querrá advertirnos que nada es permanente?
Un paréntesis en medio de nosotros pide (a gritos) palabras de ternura
para revelar (sin miedo) cualquier dolor oculto.

Un signo de paréntesis abierto con los suspiros nuestros
en noche de luna nueva,
y cerrado en plena madrugada después de haber tocado las estrellas
(como otras veces hemos hecho)
tras ver girar la tierra desde muy lejos
imaginando alcanzar el infinito.

Un paréntesis de fórmula algebraica
nos invita a insertar cifras de suma, resta y multiplica
experiencias compartidas en la raíz cuadrada
una ecuación de certeza anticipada
(aunque no lo hayamos calculado todavía)
pues el resultado será un número completo
no una fracción de un solo instante.

Un paréntesis que nos permita
sostener el corazón de cada uno entre ese signo paciente y arbitrario
dispuesto a (simplemente) destacar
lo indescifrable del amor y del tiempo en su conjunto.

Judge’s Comment primer lugar: “Entre paréntesis” es el poema que más me emocionó. El poema me habló de la importancia de reflexionar, de encontrar un paréntesis en nuestras vidas, para adentrarnos en el maravilloso paisaje de nuestra existencia. El paréntesis nos da la oportunidad de saborear lo hermoso de la vida, llena de ambiguedades, bajo la sombra del amor.

“In Parenthesis” by Nitza Hernández (English Translation)

A parenthesis sign has been placed between us
with its entry bracket and its closing one
(one for you and the other one for me) in waiting times of silence
to express what (sometimes) we cannot say with our voices
to make sense of the inconceivable.

A parenthesis to repeat the memory
of a lilting downpour in the Caribbean (at drought time)
yearning to pour its crystal clear refreshing water into our bodies.

An unexpected parenthesis has come to us in times of the pandemic.
Does it want to emphasize the uncertainty of tomorrow?
Does it want to warn us that nothing is permanent?
A parenthesis between us asks (crying out) for words of tenderness
to (fearlessly) reveal any hidden pain.

A sign of parenthesis opened with our sighs
on a night of a new moon
and closed in full dawn after having touched the stars
(like other times we have done)
after viewing the earth spinning from far away
imagining to reach infinity.

An algebraic formula parenthesis
invites us to insert addition, subtraction, and multiplication figures
shared experiences in a square root
an anticipated certainty equation
(even though we have not yet calculated it)
for the result will be a whole number
not a fraction of a single instant.

A parenthesis that allows us
to hold the heart of each one between that patient and arbitrary sign
willing to (simply) stand out
the indecipherable of love and time as a whole.

Judge’s Comment: “In Parentheses” is the poem that moved me the most. The poem spoke to me of the importance of reflecting, of finding a parenthesis in our lives, to delve into the wonderful landscape of our existence. The parenthesis, the space, gives us the opportunity to savor the beauty of life, full of ambiguities, under the shadow of love.

Poet’s Bio: Nitza Hernández lives in Salem, Oregon, since 2012, after retiring as a professor from the University of Puerto Rico. She considers herself a bilingual poet. Various of her poems are published in: Antología de Poesía Oregoniana (2017, 2019), Terra Incognita, Oregon Poets Write for Ecological, Social, Political, and Economic Justice (Bob Hill Publishing, 2019), and /pãn| dé| mïk/ 2020: An Anthology of Pandemic Poems by OPA Members. She is also a visual artist.

Second Place Spanish Language: “comesol” by Broderick Eaton

dentro de una mora carmín
dos semillas de café dormidas
espalda a espalda como
manecillas en oración
firmes y esperando

Judge’s Comment segundo lugar: “comesol” es un corto poema lleno de encantadoras imágenes que nos cuchichean aromas de vida muy prontas a despertar.

“suneater” by Broderick Eaton (English Translation)

inside a crimson berry
two coffee seeds asleep
back to back like
small hands in prayer
hard and waiting

Judge’s Comment: “suneater” is a short poem full of charming images that whisper aromas of life very soon to be awakened.

Poet’s Bio: Broderick Eaton’s work appears in numerous publications, including Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Smartish Pace, Writer’s Digest, Flying South, and Verseweavers. She won Sixfold’s Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Erskine J. Poetry Prize, the 49th Parallel Award, and the Tucson Festival of Books. Her education included studies with Mary Oliver at Sweet Briar College and she recently completed an MFA through Lindenwood University. She lives with her family in the high desert of Oregon.

Third Place Spanish Language: “Invernal” by Concepción Sámano

Tiempo de estancamientos
de agua que se paraliza, se oscurece
niebla demorada
un pantano invadiendo el horizonte
y las estrellas congeladas
en un cielo que se atasca sin fin
sobre el eco del ladrido de perros
y la belleza alba de los pinos nevados.

Del otro lado el río es agua
que corre tras sí misma
navega en sus remansos
para verterse en sus tormentas
que pule rocas
con la paciencia del artista
con la fuerza del cincel.

Pero, más que sólo agua
el río es tiempo, tempestad
palabras ahogadas
desiertos desplazándose
mares viajeros sobre la tierra
es todas las ideas que transcurren en silencio
palabras residuales del subconsciente
escapando de sí mismas.

Yo no sé si la lluvia viene del cielo
para bañar el valle que se extiende por todo el orbe
inexorable y sin prisa por terminar de caer
o es una humedad que brota de las ventanas mismas
empañando su transparencia
no sé si la soledad mana debajo de la nieve
o del silencio marcial de los abetos sobre las colinas
es quizá un ave terrible que sobrevuela a pleno día
esparciendo la sombra entre los bosques silentes
una capa que no arropa
una nostalgia de largos vuelos
de lejanas procedencias en el tiempo
pese a la hierba que puja por brotar con sus flores
de entre la tumba general de todo lo que se ha ahogado
en la geología de éste paisaje.

Judge’s Comment tercer lugar: “Invernal” es un poema que plantea dilemas existenciales. Me habló del mundo en que vivimos, un mundo lleno de dudas, interogantes y certezas que asemejan la fluidez de las aguas de un río.

“Wintry” by Concepción Sámano (English translation)

Time of stagnation
of water that is paralyzed, that darkens
delayed fog
a swamp invading the horizon
and the frozen stars
in a sky that stalls without end
over the echo of the barking of dogs
and the pale beauty of the snowy pines.

On the other side the river is water
that runs after itself
sail in its backwaters
to pour into their storms
that polishes rocks
with the patience of the artist
with the force of the chisel.

But, more than just water
the river is time, storm
drowned words
scrolling deserts
traveling seas over land
is all the ideas that pass in silence
residual words from the subconscious
escaping from themselves.

I don’t know if the rain comes from the sky
to blanket the valley that stretches across the globe
inexorable and in no hurry to finish falling
or is it moisture that comes from the windows themselves
tarnishing its transparency
I don’t know if loneliness flows under the snow
or the martial silence of the pines on the hills
it is perhaps a terrible bird that flies over in broad daylight
spreading the shadow among the silent forests
a cape that does not cover
a nostalgia for long flights
from distant origins in time
despite the grass that tries to sprout with its flowers
from the general grave of all that has died
in the geology of this landscape

Judge’s Comment: “Wintry” is a poem that elicits existential dilemmas. It spoke to me about the world in which we live, a world full of doubts, questions and certainties that resemble the fluidity of the waters of a river.

Poet’s Bio: Concepción Sámano, born in Jaral del Progreso, Gto, México, en 1971. She studied philosophy, has published several collections of poems, and poems and articles in magazines and anthologies. Programmer at Radio Poder. She currently lives in Falls City, Oregon, and participates in various activities aimed at the dissemination of poetry.

Judge’s Bio: Efraín Díaz-Horna was born in Peru. He was educated in Lima, Peru, Oregon and Wisconsin. He holds two graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Efraín worked for the State of Oregon and Multnomah County and retired in 2001. He was described as “a legend in our midst: Philosopher, teacher, artist, poet, director—a true Renaissance Man.” Efraín has been drawing, painting, and writing since he was a child. He has exhibited his art in Oregon, Mexico, Russia, and Peru. His poetry has been published in several newspapers and newsletters and he has authored several books of poetry.

Efraín Díaz-Horna nació en Perú. Recibió su educación en Lima, Perú, Oregón y Wisconsin. Tiene dos títulos de posgrado de la Universidad de Wisconsin-Madison. Efraín trabajó para el estado de Oregón y el condado de Multnomah y se jubiló en 2001. Fue descrito como “una leyenda entre nosotros: filósofo, maestro, artista, poeta, director, un verdadero hombre del Renacimiento”. Efraín dibuja, pinta y escribe desde niño. Ha exhibido su arte en Oregón, México, Rusia y Perú. Su poesía ha sido publicada en varios periódicos y boletines y es autor de varios libros de poesía.

Spring 2021 Contest Winning Poems in Category “Under 30”

2021 Spring Contest Winning Poems in the Under 30 Category
Judge: Tiel Aisha Ansari

First Place: “etymology for rage” by Ashley Baker

I am scrolling for the words,
the poem to send you, shopping
for the one that’s not too
angry today, like America, one
that is raging quietly like most
women I know, like me,
one that talks about love
and flowers and wants also
to rip the page in half
in quarters into unutterable
fragments that stutter
like crows poisoned
out of the sky. I find
it nowhere, and set again
to work.

Judge’s Note: A short poem that turns skillfully on a single image, leaving space for the reader to insert all of their own quiet rage. The exact right poem can’t be found? The poet sets to work to create it.

Poet’s Bio: Ashley writes poetry while riding her bicycle in the Pacific Northwest.

Second Place: “Heritage” by Jade Walker

After Li Young Lee

My mother buried herself
again. We watched the trout
and the salmon swim up her cheeks while
the rocks and pebbles rested in her belly.
Clouds stopped to take some of her steady river
and my sticky hands stole even more.

My mother buried herself
like old clocks in an antique shop.
Passers-by shuffle on and regard the thing
in need of great dusting.
We must be the dust clinging on to Mother
for dear life.

My mother buried herself
in ashes — became a hearth to warm us.
The flicker went out
when we stopped adding firewood.
Instead, my mother is wine that we drink to
forget, forget, forget.

Judge’s Note: Striking images convey the loss of a parent. A grief poem with no mention of grief.

Poet’s Bio: Jade Walker is from Suisun City, California, and moved to Oregon to attend Corban University. There, she studies English with a concentration in creative writing. She enjoys writing poems, short stories, and novels. Her other hobbies include birding, exercising, and reading. After graduation, Jade will pursue a career in writing.

Third Place: “Miracles I’d Forgotten” by Sarah Kendall

No context miracles:
Confusion Hill, wedged between redwoods,
Where gravity is slightly sideways.
A man on fire. Somehow his hair doesn’t burn.
Anagrams, oxymorons, palindromes, in that order.

Miracles found in a free sample bowl:
Glow-in-the-dark conspiracy theorists
Sell miracles I never considered.
1. Know-it-all aliens with cancer cures
2. Blackened crystals swirling in oolong tea
3. Our planet, someone’s failed soufflé
4. Finland was faked

Lost pocket miracles:
An oddity shop in Seattle tried to convince me
Their mermaid was real. But her dry scales looked
Like bruised fingernails, and her face matched
The discounted shrunken heads.

Judge’s Note: On re-reading, this seemingly random list of items begins to exert its own logic and creates a skewed but coherent reality.

Poet’s Bio: Sarah Kendall is currently a student at Corban University in Salem, Oregon. She is a new poet who hopes to be officially published someday. Her hobbies include watching documentaries, running short distances, and doing nothing every blue moon.

Judge’s Bio: Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi warrior poet. Her work has been featured by Fault Lines Poetry, Windfall, KBOO and an Everyman’s Library anthology, among others. Her collections include Knocking from Inside, High-Voltage Lines, Country Well-Known as an Old Nightmare’s Stable, The Day of My First Driving Lesson, and the forthcoming Dervish Lions. She works as a data analyst for the Portland Public School district and is president emerita of the Oregon Poetry Association. She hosts the Wider Window Poetry show on KBOO Community Radio, https://www.kboo.fm/program/wider-window-poetry Visit her online at http://knockingfrominside.blogspot.com

Spring 2021 Contest Winners in “Traditional” Category

2021 Spring Contest Winners for the Traditional Category (Dizain)
Judge: John Sibley Williams

First Place: “In the Key of Melancholy” by Barbara Blanks

A sigh of shadows slips between the stars,
creates a somber lyric when the sky
and moon are strummed like out-of-tune guitars.
The thrum of sounds, their smoky purrs awry
as restless dreams, provoke and mystify
with wails of sweet sad fever hot with wrong.
The pain from broken promises is strong,
but sorrow moves through darkness, makes a choice.
A heart fileted by love will find new song
when sunlight warms with silken dulcet voice.

Judge’s Note: There’s a subtle musicality to this poem that really resonates with its genuine emotional core of human uncertainty and simple human pain. Each line builds atop the next without calling attention to itself, quietly creating a consistent atmosphere of somber introspection that ends, as so many good poems do, with a brilliant shard of light. Especially important in our rather cynical era, the poem reminds us that sometimes hope and love are choices we can make to hold the shadows at bay.

Poet’s Bio: Barbara Blanks, a former Ft. Stevens resident, is the author of nine books, co-author of one, and published in a variety of anthologies. Barb is known for her exuberant love of life, the liberties she often takes with her reality, and her pursuit of a sense of direction. She is also admired for her stick-to-it-iveness, although she mostly sticks to her unmopped kitchen floor. Website: www.barbara-blanks.com

Second Place: “Knitting Lesson” by Lynn Otto

I pull the needles out from half a sleeve
and wind the yarn back into a soft red ball
quick, row by row, undo the faulty weave,
turn sleeve to cuff—then nothing’s there at all.
It can be hard to make this drastic call,
but compared to love, this is an easy art—
a ball of yarn is nothing like a heart.
This probably need less tension this time round—
it’s worth the pains to take the thing apart.
If only a lover’s wounds could be unwound.

Judge’s Note: “Knitting Lesson” delicately balances a small, mundane, human gesture with larger emotions in a way that feels both natural and surprising. We watch a hand work yarn into and out of, piercing and releasing its fabric, in a way that builds a subtle tension. Then we strike that lovely pivot point of “a ball of yarn is nothing like a heart”, after which nothing will be the same.

Poet’s Bio: Lynn Otto holds an MFA from Portland State University, lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and works as an academic copy editor. Her collection, Real Daughter, won a Unicorn Press First Book Award and was an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Publications also include poems in Iron Horse Literary Review, Raleigh Review, Sequestrum, and other journals.

Third Place: “Blind-spots Dizain” by Amelia Diaz Ettinger

Of course, I have a cloud floating in my left eye.
The smudged mirror of my life stands caged
on the fovea, where images should be amplified.
The viscous tissue amalgamates in old age
rendering indecisions even while reading a simple page.
Maybe this floater formed by my own fragmentation,
gardens and children left unattended, without conversations.
There is a sort of justice that I own this blemish
which stands so close to the optic nerve station
the blind-spot, no going back, no redoing my wreckage.

Judge’s Note:

I immediately fell in love with the visceral, biological language in this poem, which introduces the unique metaphor of an eye’s blind spot standing in for what we tend to miss in our lives. Images are amplified. Things most people take for granted grow cloudy and uncertain. These visual fragments become memories, become wreckage from the past. And the poet has the acuity and honesty to finally admit to us, “There is a sort of justice that I own this blemish”.

Poet’s Bio: Amelia Díaz Ettinger is a ‘Mexi-Rican,’ born in México but raised in Puerto Rico. As a BIPOC poet and writer, she has two full-length poetry books published: Learning to Love a Western Sky by Airlie Press, and a bilingual poetry book, Speaking at a Time /Hablando a la Vez by Redbat Press. A historical/environmental poetry chapbook, Fossils in a Red Flag, is being released by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies. Her short story, “A Girl Like Me,” won honorable mention this year by Ice Colony. Presently, Amelia Díaz Ettinger is working on an MFA in creative writing at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon.

Judge’s Biography: John Sibley Williams is the author of six collections, including The Drowning House (Elixir Press Poetry Award), As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press), and Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize). A twenty-six-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and founder of the Caesura Poetry Workshop series. Previous publishing credits include Best American Poetry, Yale Review, Verse Daily, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and TriQuarterly.