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

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