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!


Fall Contest Results for Theme: Community

2020 Fall Adult Contest Results for Theme/Community
Judge: Emmett Wheatfall

First Place Winner for Theme: “Friday Night after COVID” by Christen Pagett

We’ll walk to Fitzgerald’s at the corner,
and I’ll order the darkest beer
with the deepest froth
and tip him more than 20%,
even though he’s never smiled at us before.

We’ll meld into the
crush of bodies,
like a tributary,
finding the mouth of its river,
swaying towards the
open mic stage,
like children of a common mother.

And we won’t mind
the warmth radiating off
everyone’s skin,
won’t mind the strange
intimacy of a stranger’s
shoulder brushing ours,
and will grin back when
they smile an apology,
both struck by the tenderness.

Judge’s Note: Metaphorically speaking, the title for every poem should be the match that ignites curiosity. It serves as the window suggesting there is something to behold and invites potential readers to a personal encounter. Friday Night After COVID does just that—invites potential readers to a personal encounter. Contextualized as a 3-stanza poem which is simply perfect for its content. Scansion in a broader sense of the term reveals the fact the poem does not use end-rhymes which better serves the poetic message regarding community. Notice the stanza lengths of 5, 7, and 9. One might wonder if the variable of increasing stanzas by 2 lines is by poetic design. If not, it stands eye catching in a positive manner. Interlaced throughout the poem is the impact of pandemic, a public meeting place, a libation common for encouraging communal gathering, the warmth of human interaction and spirit, and an infraction that does warrant apology during pandemic. This fabulous poem inspires the best of humanity in these the worst of times. It should make readers yearn for Friday nights after COVID.

Poet’s Bio: Christen Pagett is most at home in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where she has been a longtime educator, hoping to inspire teens with the love of language and all the worlds it can open. Most recently, she spends her days pursuing an MFA in poetry at Eastern Oregon University, practicing piano, and trying new recipes on her expanding, beautiful family.

Second Place Winner for Theme: “The Grandmothers Stand” by Linda Appel

Behind their daughters’ yellow wall
the grandmothers are standing
in Portland streets, as once they stood
in Argentina, as they will stand again,
forever in the sadness of the wind.
You may not see the grandmothers,
but we stand behind the protesters,
as witnesses of truth.
You may not hear us shout, but
we lend our presence to the litany
of righteous anger.
We can no longer run and fight,
withstand the fog of tear gas;
but what we lack in youth and strength
we make up for in certitude,
the knowledge of what’s right and wrong,
and what it takes to save the world
Outside the Justice Center
beneath gunmetal clouds,
before a phalanx dark we stand.
Some in spirit, some in body
we are present at this midnight rite
of pretense and provocation.
One by one, sad silent grandmothers gather
to stand, now and forever, in solidarity.
Our time is past and yet we continue
to stand and call, with urgent clarity,
Know justice; know peace

Judge’s Note: The Grandmothers Stand is a gem worthy of wider distribution and publication. It is timely given the major social justice movement in America called Black Lives Matters. It is safe to assume that when grandma gets upset about something, everybody better pay attention, straighten up and act right. This poem reveals community in an abstract way. The community is that of grandmothers who have come together in common resolve. Other than infants and children, they are the most vulnerable in society. These grandmothers, as characterized in this poem, are willing to place their principles and social convictions about equality and inclusion on the line in a public and demonstrative way. One wonders if they had wooden ladle in hand, with every intent to bring about justice in a way only grandmothers can, equality and inclusion would be a settled issue. Society should pay close attention to when grandmothers speak.

Poet’s Bio: When she moved to Oregon 40 years ago, Linda Knowlton Appel felt she had come home. Now a retired sci-tech librarian, she spends her free time in constant wonder, contemplating the river, the mountain, and the world in which we live. Her poems have appeared in Willawaw Journal, Voicecatcher, and elsewhere; and she has published two chapbooks.

Third Place Winner for Theme: “don’t call us punk because we hate that” by Adam Oyster-Sands

don’t call us punk because we hate that
once we played a show
in a record store
with a band named after
a porn star.
their singer repeatedly declared
he was more punk
than the rest of us
at the end of their set
he proved it
by macing himself
in the face,
collapsing on the floor
in a ball of mucus and tears and screams.
his band stepped over
his writhing body
to join the rest of us
outside smoking cigarettes
in the crisp december air.

Judge’s Note: The poem “don’t call us punk because we hate that” is the kind of poem that gets to the heart of what’s truly poetic. It is in your face kind of poetry, tackling metaphors some would consider sensitive. Historically, the word punk has held the connotation for being derogatory, denoting—other; while over times it has become a cultural term of endearment and identification about a lifestyle that is positive and inclusive. Here, the poet is quite clever weaving together a poetic narrative that makes what some might perceive as negative, a positive. It is masterful how the poet takes a negative and turns it into a positive. The insensitivity of one culminated the formation of a larger sense of community. And expanded form of immediate community was born due to something negative. Despite calamity, people can still find common bond. If only society would look beyond its differences, its indifference, its biases, come together in expanded community, it would make for a better world.

Poet’s Bio: Adam Oyster-Sands is a high school English teacher in Portland, Oregon with an MA in Humanities from the University of Dallas. He is an aging punk rocker who still enjoys trying to land a kickflip, the occasional circle pit, and fucking shit up before 10pm. Adam can also be found hiking up mountains and running through forests with his partner Morgan and their puppies.

Judge’s Bio: Emmett Wheatfall is a poet living in Portland, Oregon where he reads, writes, publishes, and performs poetry. Emmett has published 7 books of poetry, released 1 non-musical poetry CD and 4 musical poetry CDs. His latest published work is Our Scarlet Blue Wounds. For comprehensive biographical and contact information, please visit http://emmettwheatfall.com.