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.
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
within the searching fins
that it's swimming
think is the wrong word
it's a fact: the hawk is flying
the fish is swimming
it seems everyone I know
has seen something similar
at least once
it takes just once
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
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
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.
a bushel of layered words to stuff the cracks
of my walls and keep out all those boring ideas.
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'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
like two halves
of a severed
skull to skull
when I pull on
her frayed red braid
we make the mute
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."
of small consequence
that you have left me
the white hot moon
a black hole
where you slept.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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)