Spring 2021 Poetry Contest Winners, Members Only Category

Spring 2021 Adult Poetry Contest
Winners in the Members Only Category (Judge: Colette Tennant)

First Place: “From the Journals of Rumpelstiltskin” by Linda Ferguson

I gave myself the name.
So many syllables – delicious – like chocolate and almonds
or the wrinkles of dried cherries and shards of coconut all tumbling
between tongue and teeth.

At the castle they’re in a tizzy: Virus, quarantine, blah, blah blah.
Ha! I live alone in a hut with a roof of woven branches.
I dance around the stove while I’m cooking.
I’ve made a family for myself out of fallen plums.
My favorite is Gisella. She wears an oak-leaf apron
and greets me with her Alpine contralto.

I have a rich interior life. You never hear about that, though –
all you get is that same tired story:
The one where I throw a fit and tear myself in two.
Now why would I do that? I don’t need a mirror
or an Instagram account to see myself:
I’m like a bonfire whose sparks rise to kiss the gull’s arc.
I know who I am and how it feels when I lift my face to the sky
and the stars kiss me in return.

Let that be the story you tell your kids tonight.

Judge’s Comments: What an amazing poem! I love the voice here. This poet is a master of metaphor and simile. Impressive all the way through, and notice how this poem builds to that crescendo at the end.

Poet’s Bio: A four-time Pushcart nominee, Linda Ferguson is a writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her first poetry chapbook, Baila Conmigo, was published by Dancing Girl Press, and her second collection is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. As a writing teacher, she has a passion for helping students find their voice and explore new territory. https://bylindaferguson.blogspot.com/

Second Place: “Tether” by Melody Wilson

The old car cleared its throat as we turned onto the road—
my sister, her boyfriend, me draped over their seat.
We were sent to the store,
but instead followed first one then another
two-lane road as they spun their web,
across the desert.

We rode in the arms of the radio’s light,
the Jupiter blue of every August night,
the three of us sailing past Dairy Queen,
past the water tower,
past curfew.

Joshua trees pressed their hands
over incredulous eyes
as white lines came faster and faster,
broke to a single ribbon
just elastic enough
to keep us from taking flight.

Judge’s Comments: In this wonderful poem, the poet takes what could be familiar details and makes them all magical.

Poet’s Bio: Melody Wilson earned an Academy of American Poets Award before beginning her teaching career. She returned to poetry in 2019 and received a 2020 Kay Snow Poetry Award. Recent work appears in Visions International, Triggerfish Critical Review and One Art Poetry Review. Upcoming work will be in Cirque, Briar Cliff Review and Tar River Poetry.

Third Place: “February” by Suzy Harris

Is it the transit of Venus this month?
Or the hunger moon? The celestial bodies
confuse my sense of time. Days
have taken new names: Leaden, Torpor,
Boulder, Granite, Fog, Tepid, Dormant.

A pale winter sky asks me to reconsider
my condemnation. Golden threaded witch hazel
offers itself as Exhibit A. Aren’t I
magnificent? she says, glowing holy
in the afternoon light.

Judge’s Comments: In a quick ten lines, this poem so aptly and subtly describes the odd passing of time during a pandemic without once mentioning the word.

Poet’s Bio: Suzy Harris is a retired attorney. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Clackamas Literary Review, Rain, Third Wednesday, VoiceCatcher, Windfall, and various anthologies. She lives in Portland, OR.

Judge’s Bio: Colette Tennant has two poetry books, Commotion of Wings and Eden and After. Her most recent book, Religion in The Handmaid’s Tale: a Brief Guide, was published late in 2019 to coincide with Atwood’s publication of The Testaments. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Prairie Schooner, Rattle, and Poetry Ireland Review.

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