Writecorner Press Poetry Awards 2007-2012

2012 First Place $500 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize Winner: "Hawk Dream" by Nellie Hill

Nellie Hill's work has appeared in The Naugatuk River Review, The Harvard Magazine, American Poetry Review, Psychological Perspectives, and The Belleview Literary Review and work forthcoming in The Coal Hill Review, The Briar Cliff Review,  and Commonweal.  She has published two chapbooks: My Daily Walk (Pudding House) and Geographies (Small Poetry Press). Winter Horse, her third chapbook, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Hill works as an acupressure therapist in Berkeley, California. 

Hawk Dream

suddenly bright

like insight

a hawk floats

on a stream overhead

fish flapping in the claws

don't remind me because

it's wrong so unfair

that everyone has to eat

and this is how it happens

the fish thinks

somewhere within its

twisting body

within the searching fins

that it's swimming

think is the wrong word

it's a fact: the hawk is flying

with prey

the fish is swimming

it seems everyone I know

has seen something similar

at least once

it takes just once

one memory

as if it happened to you

real or in a dream

you think you're flying

trying to catch a ship that's already left

you're late

and where are you going

2012 $100 Editors' Choice: "Web" by Julie L. Moore

Julie L. Moore is the author of Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions) and Election Day (Finishing Line Press). A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Moore has also had her poetry published in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Journal, Atlanta Review, Calyx, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review Online, The Southern Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. Learn more about her work at www.juliemoore.com .



So much depends on the fine line it spins,

how its very life hangs

in the balance between calm and wind,

between distance from the porch floor

and proximity to my door,

between the patience it exhibits in its still legs

as it waits all day to snare a moth

and the way it works up its spider-sweat

as it wraps its silk rope around the wings, lets

its venom go, and later, when the moment's heat

has passed, enjoys its meal, a hexagon then

heavy with triumph, suspended

there in the entry where I stand,

my broom in my hand.

2012 Poems of Distinction:

Terry Godbey, "The Geometry of Suffering," Florida

Carol Henrikson, "What The Image Is," Vermont

Angel Mancebo, "Amends," Florida

Catherine Moran, "An average attempt," Arkansas

Penelope Scambly Schott, "In the Beginning, Prostitutes Were Sacred," Oregon

Sandra Soli, "Julia Rehearses Her Obituary," Oklahoma

Julie Stuckey, "Announcing To The Children I Want A Green Burial," New York

Deborah Valianti, "Expediency," Massachusetts


2011 First Place $500 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize Winner: "The last punctuation mark" by Catherine Moran

After teaching high school English for many years, Catherine Moran now works in an office in Little Rock, AR, which gives her more time to write and appreciate poetry. The Bitter Oleander, Byline, Kansas City Voices, and Atlanta Review have published some of her work. Her first book of poetry, Discovering Pigs, was published a few years ago. Writecorner Press is pleased to nominate Catherine's winning poem for a Pushcart Prize.

The last punctuation mark

My insignificance overwhelms me.

One day I will slice through the air

feet first,

and blue molecules will conveniently close up,

and no trace of me will be left.

How easily people will go on to the drug store,

and beauty shop, and Farmers' Market

without giving me a second thought.


Sometimes I remember for a fleeting second,

my great aunt, Eulalia,

just for another tribute to her staunch personality.

Such a powerful old moniker.

Memories have the staying power of spring pollen.

A new generation, a blast of rain

and they are erased.


None of these thoughts will prevent me from

carving out my own niche,

even polishing up the furniture a bit.

I've collected

a bushel of layered words to stuff the cracks

of my walls and keep out all those boring ideas.

I've pasted

pictures of my wandering children on the ceiling

without return addresses.

I've sung songs

weaving a blanket strong enough to keep

mediocre critics at bay.

All will be burned with little thought

when I leave.


And that torch may be the brightest evidence

of a gate-crasher

who stayed after the party to pick up the confetti.

I will be jettisoned into a mute universe

in a combination of sparks and carbon.

If a charred piece escapes,

I hope it is not a stanza, or a phrase,

or even a word.

I hope it is just a comma.

2011 $100 Editors' Choice: "Recurrent Daydream about my Lover's Other Lover" by

Ellen LaFleche

Ellen LaFleche's chapbook, Workers' Rites, recently won the Philbrick Poetry Prize and will be published in April 2011 by Providence Antheneum. A second chapbook, Ovarian, is forthcoming from Dallas Poets Community Press. She is an assistant editor for Naugatuck Review and assistant judge for the war poetry contest at Winning Writers. Writecorner Press is pleased to nominate the following poem for a Pushcart Prize.

Recurrent Daydream about my Lover's Other Lover


I find myself

standing in her





I walk into her torso,

our curved pelvis-bones

notching together

like two halves

of a severed




skull to skull

we undulate.



when I pull on

her frayed red braid

we make the mute

mute music

of our clapper-less bell.



our synchronized cries

whip her lace

curtains made from nothing

but thin thread

and gloam-scented air.


when we tenderly


from each other

I hear the bone-sharp


of my fracturing


2011 Poems of Distinction:


Linda Breeden – “Undercurrent” – Florida

Anthony Chen – “a penny a gallon” – New Jersey

Julianne Di Nenna – “Defiant Eyes” – Geneva, Switzerland

John Fitzpatrick – “Night Cravings” – New York

Terry Godbey – “John’s House” – Florida

Barry W. North – “Want Ad” – Louisiana

Sherman Pearl – “Poems for Sale” – California

Wanda S. Praisner – “Nothing I Can Do” – New Jersey

Marian Kaplun Shapiro – “Harbinger” – Massachusetts


2010 First Place $500 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize Winner:

"immediately after the epitaph" inspired by Emily Dickinson by Sarah Marx

(nominated for a Pushcart Prize)

Sarah Marx is a 17-year-old high school senior from the Washington, D. C. area. She loves the quotidian details of life, the things we eat and breathe and pass by without thinking, and hopes to convey that fascination in her poetry. Her work has appeared in the Claremont Review. More of her writing, and that of her friends and colleagues, can be found at the Transformation of Things blog: thetransformationofthings.wordpress.com/about . She will be attending St. John's College in the fall.


Emily Dickinson scholar and Professor Emeritus of the University of Florida Richard Brantley said of Marx's winning piece, "It is an excellent poem."

immediately after the epitaph

inspired by Emily Dickinson

--and I know something about

alone, about finding sympathy

in a bird's feathers or the cracks of a windowpane,

or in an exercise tape, all smiles and limber kicks--

or in tortilla chips, or coiled strings

or in a type pad with hyper-used Enter key

jammed into limbo--

--and I can play the quiet contrarian too

at home, picking fights for the hell of it,

rational and prickly, all erudition no faith

and I can rub myself numb when I need to

with graphite and old paper--

--and when I walk my feet are unaccustomed,

like yours must have been, to the feel of strange ground,

and when I walk I am swollen like a rain cloud full to bursting,

vapor oozing from my ears, turning to fog-- 

--and you and I, we know the truth

in sailing away on hyphens, or hoisting uppercase;

there's an escape hatch when we praise the folds

of a cherry blossom not yet blown, when our hands become the petals

and we can settle a new perch, peeking through sunshine

while we wait for winter to scatter us.

2010 $100 Editors' Choice: "History Dream #12: Again"

by Richard Downing

Richard Downing won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Peace Poetry Award and the Matt Clark Poetry Prize. His publications include Four Steps Off the Path, a chapbook, and the anthologies Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society, The Dire Elegies, and Against Agamemnon: War Poems. A PhD in English, Downing is Co-Founder of the Florida Peace Action Network and Save our Naturecoast.

History Dream #12: Again

The Baghdad bus is filled with schoolgirls and chatter

when the bomb goes off.

A field in Vicksburg is studded with blue/gray-clad figures

prone and mostly still, save

for a slight breeze and the delicate buzz of flies.

Dresden on fire is filled with the art

of burning bodies, the drone of allied bombers


                       into borderless skies.

"Performance art at its explosive best!" critics rave.

"Hot! Hot! Hot!" they cry.

"Coming soon to a theater near you!" they entice.

            Always to a theater near you.

Photographers & filmmakers are documenting events

just then & right now, some on equipment not yet invented,

fixing a past for a future

of sequels & prequels & reruns.

They are not fortune-tellers, these witnesses.

They are just there,

doing, like you, what they do.

Somewhere (somewhen?) a brash, young man emerges

from (into?) the world

He is adjusting his fig leaf

and fingering the trigger

on a rock.

2010 $100 Editors' Choice: "Nocturne" by Cristina Ferrari-Logan

Christina Ferrari-Logan says of her life: "Widowed at age 50 with three children in college, there were a few slippery slopes, but I'm proud to say that son #1 is a writer at Comedy Central, his younger brother is a produce expert, and their sister is a Doctor of Acupuncture. Thus I have a steady supply of humor, veggies, and health care. For years, I've shared my pianist skills with Special Needs children and since retiring from the classroom, I divide my time between Steinway, Toshiba, and two little grandsons whose escapades are often the subject of my writing."


It is

of small consequence

that you have left me


that tonight

the white hot moon

has charred

a black hole

where you slept.


Honorable Mention:

Casey FitzSimons -- "You'd Have to Come" (CA)

Ed Frankel -- "Love and the Law of Thermodynamics" (CA)

Gaynell Gavin -- "Yearning" (SC)

Ellen LaFleche -- "Dance of the Seven Veils" (MA)

Patricia Kearns -- "Perspective" (NJ)

Julie L. Moore -- "Recovery" (OH)

Sherman Pearl -- "Mudville (CA)

Jon E. Seaman -- "Father's Day" (OR)

Marian Kaplun Shapiro -- "Gestational Dreaming" (MA)


2009 First Place $500 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize Winner:

"The Circle" by Fernand Michaud

A native of Massachusetts, Fernand Michaud says, "I can't help but feel nourished by the literary silt deposited by the talented writers who have flooded this region. And who knows what effect Salem and its witches, only a few miles away, have had on me?" Michaud spent most of his professional life in publishing, dividing his time between textbooks and trade books. He has been a production editor, production manager, manufacturing manager, art director, book designer, and once had his own design and production company. "I have been writing forever and received a bit of recognition while I was at UMass Amherst," he says. "Perhaps because design and production fulfilled a certain need in me, I put my own creative needs to the side--not totally, because I've continued to write; I just did not make any effort to get published. Now that our three daughters are well beyond high school sports, the time seems right to focus on real creativity."

The Circle

There is a sign in the left eye we recognize who have been borne

     to the new birth after amnesia in the timeless waters.

There is a time in the wheel we return to claim after we have followed

     the path to our goal and start who have broken the spell of passage

     from chromosome cord through bell-peaked power to worm-end under grass.

We will last. We were born too old to be young from the past,

     we will die too young to be over. Now we have wisdom in children's ways

     as we grow to the burden and clover. We do well. What the hell,

     we're between what we are and we aren't. We could be gods

     at our dawn age, we could be kept, we could be dead, we're we

     and the holy laughter. We know too much to be taken in

     unless we let ourselves be taken--and we will by the giving we make

     in the calling to break the beginning and ending. We are a calling.

You're the girl in the picture of the girl next door who grew

     herself out of the picture. You're the one she was if she could have stayed

     a woman and child forever.

She never became what she was and you are,

     she never grew into your laughter. If she had I'd be damned,

     she'd be you without bangs--and you'd be another matter.

But you're you whom I knew long before coral, long before water,

     long before even the bodies we drudge to deliver

     out of the one-way days, out of the river.

Do you understand where we were when the world began

     and the world we were when it ended? A woman's baby

     breathes in her kiss and her man and her child is

     her father and mother as well as her lover. Time is only once and forever.

And we were born before we gave birth to one another.

2009 $100 Editors' Choice: "Rwandan Mother, 1994"

by Terry Godbey

Terry Godbey's poems have appeared in Rattle, CALX Journal, Pearl, Rosebud, Poet Lore, The Cafe Review and Dogwood. She won the Rita Dove Poetry Award and was runner-up for the William Stafford Poetry Award in 2008. Her book Behind Every Door won Slipstream's chapbook contest in 2006.

Rwandan Mother, 1994

                   In three months, at least 800,000 people were murdered


Her little girls are clotted with fat flies.

She screams to scare away the mob of vultures

and curses God for keeping her alive.

She cannot move her legs, heavy as cooking pots.

She screams to scare away the mob of vultures.

Still she sees the doctor swinging his machete.

He forced apart her legs, heavy as cooking pots,

fire blooming in her throat and belly.

Still she sees the doctor swinging his machete,

even a priest--men she did and did not know--

fire blooming in their throats and bellies

as they kicked and beat her, spit into her face.

Even a priest--men she did and did not know--

slashed her daughters' slender necks,

kicked and beat her, spit into her face.

She waits for the clods of dirt to drop.

They slashed her daughters' slender necks.

She curses God for keeping her alive

and waits for the clods of dirt to drop.

Her little girls are clotted with fat flies.


2009 Finalists

Jacob M. Appel, "Anti-Poem for an Inaugural" (NY)

Patricia Clark, "Homage to Jack" (MI)

Emily B. Ellis, "Closing Dulcey's Diner" (ME)

Judith Hemschemeyer, "Reading Dante" (FL)

Ellen LaFleche, "After her supplies were tossed overboard in the storm, the Hungarian midwife had to improvise" (MA)

Korkut Onaran, "On the Paper" (CO)

Brenna Stanton, "An Expression of Humanity" (CA)

Diana Woodcock, "Movement" (Doha, Qatar)

Benjamin Vogt, "A Geologist's Love" (NE)

Brianna Ziganti, "Two paths in a wood" (OH)


2008 First Place $500 Writecorner Press Poetry Prize Winner:

"Autopsy Means to See with One's Own Eyes" by Ellaraine Lockie

Ellaraine Lockie is a well-published poet who has received eleven Pushcart Prize nominations and the 2007 Elizabeth R. Curry Prize. She was also a finalist for the 2007 Joy Harjo Award. She is the author of a poetry/art broadside Mod Gods and Luggage Straps from BrickBat Review and a chapbook collection of winning poems Blue Ribbons at the County Fair from PWJ Publishing.  Forthcoming is a Rooftop Chaplet from the Adrienne Lewis series. Lockie lives in California.

Autopsy Means to See with One's Own Eyes

In death she relaxes, parts her legs willingly

Watches with a spirit's fly eyes

the white gowns hovering over her

Hands holding, knives, chisels, scalpels and saws

in a room bleached of color

He bent over her

weight feeding through one leg onto her belly

The blade flashed an echo of car light into the alley

A siren slashed the night

Too distant to be a soldier's song

The first cut forms a Y from shoulders

to sternum to her pubic bone

Rivers of blood flow into a steel gutter at table's edge

Somewhere Chopin plays a nocturne

She smelled the blood before she felt its

hydrant flood from the ear-to-ear smile on her throat

Smooth and welcomed after the rage of storm

Then the red gargle

Curvature of stomach is cut and emptied

Intestines drained in a sink

The easy way to excrete

Even the stink lounges on impervious air

Behind masks come murmurs

about police awaiting what she had for dinner

Her spirit eyes didn't blink when a rat

ran over her face or later when cameras flashed

Red pools rusted thick and sticky

Dispatch radios scratched the surface of sound

Debris of Bordeaux, mesclun, escargot, and green

peppercorns place her at the Encore Bistro Francais

from nine to midnight

She still sees the red wine, blood of Christ

gracefully drip from the bottle onto white linen


2008 Editors' Choice $100: "The Blind Flower Girl at Her Sister's Wedding" by Ellen LaFleche

Ellen LaFleche has worked as a journalist and women's health educator in western Massachusetts. She won the Poets on Parnassus Prize for poetry about the medical experience. Her poems have been published in The Ledge, Words and Pictures Magazine, Georgia State University Review, New Millenium Writings, among others, and in several anthologies.

The Blind Flower Girl at Her Sister's Wedding

She cannot see the apricot dress she is wearing

but the flower girl hears the starched taffeta

crackling around her ankles.

The organ bursts Here Comes the Bride

and the flower girl follows the incense smoke

straight toward God. She drops rose petals

snow-slow onto the carpet.

The bride trails behind,

silk train hissing its secrets.

At the altar

the flower girl strokes the cold-skinned chalice,

feels the holy blood sloshing against its hips.

When the groom says I do

she twists her birthstone ring

round and around her finger.

She tastes sea water in her eyes. Her petal-scented hands

wipe away the sting.

The flower girl leans toward the nuptial kiss.

She hears the thrill in her sister's throat-

a low love-thrum that displaces the air like radio waves.

The crown of plastic daisies stabs the flower girl's scalp.

At the reception she rubs the cake's sweetness

between her thumb and forefinger. The groom

whirls her round and round the ballroom.

Her feet leave the ground. The crown flies off her head

and the flower girl whoops, she whoops.


2008 Poems of Distinction:

Terry Godbey, "The Calligrapher's Wife (FL)

Leigh Herrick, "Villanelle Variation for Miss Waldron's Red Colobus (MN)

Rumit Panchol, "The Foreplay of Hands" (MD)

Jendi Reiter, "The Tune Michael" (MA)

Grace Rishell, "War Memorial" (PA)

Elisavietta Ritchie, "Psyche Considers Accepting Another Lover" (MD)

K. K. Todorovich, "Weekend Pass: Fort Gordon" (NM)

Jungmin Yoon, "Thoughts of a Love-Struck Man in the Land of the Morning Calm" (Canada)


First Place $500 Writecorner Press 2007 Poetry Prize Winner:

"A Love Note to Teenagers" by Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph is the author of five books of poems, most recently Worldly Pleasures (Word Press). She lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she is on the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University. She serves as editor of Crab Orchard Review and director of the Young Writers Workshop, a summer writing conference for high school-aged writers. The editors of Writecorner Press are pleased to nominate Joseph's poem for the Pushcart Prize.


A Love Note to Teenagers

All the things your parents hate you for--

curt belligerent backtalk, rude grumbling

under your breath, clothes falling off you

or clinging to you as if wet, permanently--

that's what I love about you, what makes

me glad you exist, screeching and stumbling

through the mall, convulsed by laughter

so severe you can barely walk. Those sullen

stares, those moody silences--I think

they're art, and each of you's a master--

the prom kings and tech geeks, cutters

and starvers, the addicts of joystick

and screen, the scrawny and scarred,

the dyed, pierced, ripped and safety-pinned

together. Look at you--you are falling

apart and coming together all at once,

sprouting and sizzling and popping off

at the mouth, imperfections twitching up

overnight to grab you, trip you, make you

split-second vicious or so liquid-slow

that all you yearn to do is sleep

a sleep so voluptuous that you wake

in a different country, an oblivion so deep

it lets you become someone else.

And you are always becoming someone

else, reaching back to rip off the labels

slapped on your back by a succession

of guidance counselors and homeroom

teachers, witless adults like me, fools

too busy to see how you're flickering

and breaking, how fear, rage, and jealousy

have nothing and everything to do

with the next thing you buy, eat, say.


2007 Editors' Choice $100: "Nothing Lost" by Sherman Pearl

Sherman Pearl is co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and a coeditor of the CQ poetry journal. He has published four poetry collections in the past fifteen years and has won numerous awards, most notably first prize in the 2002 competition of the National Writers Union. His work has appeared in more than forty literary magazines.

Nothing Lost

After counting my losses, all that had vanished

from my hands, I remember

Miss Gordon saying in 8th grade science

that the elements the world is composed of

never dissipate, cannot be lost or separated

from ourselves--only transformed.

Her immutable laws of thermodynamics

assure me that whatever I thought had vanished

is still present in forms I don't recognize.

Maybe all that wastage has been transmogrified

into flowers, say, or into the sparrow

that chirps at my window I'm here, I'm here.

That bright bird voice could be Miss Gordon's--

still singing her psalms to Bunsen burners

and sacrificed frogs, still teaching

that nature is nothing but smoke and dust,

molted feathers and careless droppings.

She herself was made up

of wild hair and a dress I squinted to see through

as she perched on her desk, legs crossed.

It comforts me that after the bird dies

her molecules will reshape themselves into

other unexpected things--

a book, a comb, a passing woman's perfume.


2007 Editors' Choice $100: "Family Plot" by Jessica Bane Robert

Jessica Bane Robert, writer of poetry and creative nonfiction, lives in Worcester, Massachusetts. She has taught English and creative writing to students of all ages and backgrounds for more than ten years. She is completing a mixed-genre memoir about growing up off the grid in the Maine woods in a log cabin built by her father. In fall 2007, Ecotone will publish an excerpt of her memoir.

Family Plot

Let me remember what is mine to keep,

(melancholy frog-song echoing from the pond)

wake memory from its mortal sleep.

Tree-filtered purity bundled deep;

bones and duff slumber in a soil bond.

Let me remember what is mine to keep.

Tall alder shadows flicker and weep,

ghosts of forgotten pastures do not respond:

wake memory from his mortal sleep!

How the carrots rest in sandy beds, steep,

filigree tops that flared in the garden--gone.

Let me remember what is mine to keep.

Bobtailed does over frost-soft apples leap,

elude the bullet's path, loiter headstrong.

Wake memory from its mortal sleep.

A baby lies within a cruciform heap.

By iron sides sing a love-song,

let me remember what is mine to keep;

wake memory from its mortal sleep.


2007 Honorable Mentions:

James Bettendorf, "Best and Brightest" (MN)

Kasey Edison, "Franklin's Ghost" (PA)

Rumit Pancholi, "Send-off" (IN)

Vivian Shipley, "Too Late to Cross the Country on My Thumb" (CT)

Ilene Starger, "Everest" (NY)