About the poems from judge Beth Wood:
I was honored and delighted to spend time with this collection of poems. At first it felt like a new and complete work. I read from start to finish like a book many times, marveling at the common threads running through. It was a welcome companion at my coffee table, and I treasure the time I got to spend with these carefully crafted works.
For me, a poem reaches me with maximum impact when the language is direct and succinct, when it brings to my attention something new – a new way of seeing something, or something I have not imagined yet. It brings to the surface stirred connections between the poet’s experience and my own, invites me to wonder.
I humbly submit these selections, and I thank each poet for his/her/their contribution. Spending time with these poems gave me hope that poetry is alive and well in Oregon!
First Prize: “Making Lists” – Jenna Funkhouser
Second Prize: “Sandhill Cranes and Elephants” – Vivienne Popperl
Third Prize: “Sanctuary” – Cynthia Jacobi
First: “Mr. Policeman” – Scottie Sterrett
Second: “Communion” – Nancy Knowles
Third: “Valor and Obedience” – Susan Whitney
Beth Wood is an award-winning singer-songwriter and poet and believer in the power of word and song. Beth has been writing, recording, and performing for twenty-five years, and she has released twelve solo albums, one duo album, three books of poetry, and a collection of funny stories from the road. Beth’s poetry book Ladder To The Light is the winner of the 2019 Oregon Book Awards People’s Choice Award and was a finalist for the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry. Beth’s dream is to live simply, build community through music and poetry, and move something with her art. Beth’s musical philosophy is that there are no wrong notes. Beth lives in Sisters, OR with her rescue dog Hannah and is continuously writing and rewriting her artist’s manifesto.
Jenna Funkhouser, “Making Lists” – Members Only, 1st Place
I open a blank note on my phone,
label it “miracles.”
It stays empty for a while.
I can’t decide.
Sometimes I want to write, nothing.
And sometimes, everything.
It is still sitting there,
Daring me to draw a line
Down the middle of my life.
Jenna K. Funkhouser is an author and nonprofit communicator living in Pacific Northwest. Her poetry has recently been published by Geez Magazine, As It Ought To Be, Ekphrastic Review, and the Saint Katherine Review, and was a runner-up in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies: Poetry Society of Indiana Award. She has imagined many lives for herself, but always ends up calling Portland, Oregon home.
Vivienne Popperl, “Sandhill Cranes and Elephants” – Members Only, 2nd Place
Sandhill Cranes and Elephants
Rows of corn stalks in flooded fields
reflect themselves. Perpendicular shadows
drop over each other, trick your eyes
so that you think “there’s nothing there,”
until one grey stalk lifts up deliberately,
sets down, reveals its grey feathered
back, like a bustle, long neck, red crown.
Then you see another and another and you
hear their curling, purling, throaty call.
You learn again to be patient, to watch.
Like that time when you were ten, you sat
stifling between your brother and sister
in the back seat of the motionless car,
angled sideways to allow optimal views
of the muddy pond, and how, bored,
you looked away and then back
and a leaf swayed, then a branch,
then a herd of elephants silently sway past
brush and thorn trees, limb their way,
almost loping into brown water.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Cirque, Rain Magazine, About Place Journal, and other publications. She was poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher. She received both second place and an honorable mention in the 2021 Kay Snow awards poetry category by Willamette Writers. Her first book, “A Nest in the Heart,” is forthcoming by The Poetry Box.
Cynthia Jacobi, “Sanctuary” – Members Only, 3rd Place
Just below the bump of purple vein
she kept a hankie tucked at the top
of her knee high nylons, left leg.
Her right hand could keep on doing
what it needed to do –
stir the pot or open the door
while, with the left hand, she could catch
a sneeze, dry a tear, dab a nose.
Both arms together were sanctuary
soft footfalls of her heart against my ear.
One Easter Sunday, she posed under naked oaks
with her sisters, crowned
by floral hats and sunshine
her hankie fluttered under a polka dot hem.
Cynthia lives on the Central Oregon Coast. She is a visual artist as well as a writer. After retiring as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, she has a new focus serving her community on Newport City Council.