Monday, May 05, 2008

Poem Bakeoff Winners!

Thanks to all who sent in a poem for the Cherry Pie Poem Bakeoff. Competition was hot, plentiful, and -- I'm glad to report -- yummy. I had planned on picking a single entry, but there were three competing for that spot, even after multiple read-throughs. So the results include a first-place winner, and also a second-prize and third-prize winner. I'll also mention some choice lines from other poems.

The first-prize winner will receive free copies of all three Cherry Pie chapbooks to be published in 2008. Since second and third prizes are now included (it's just so hard to say "no" when the poems are good!), those winners can each select one free chapbook from the 2008 selections.

The three Cherry Pie chapbooks for 2008 are:
The Urge To Believe Is Stronger Than Belief Itself, by Erin M. Bertram (May 2008)
A Stranger Here Myself, by Niki Nymark (late summer 2008)
Weaving the Light, by Mary Ruth Donnelly (fall 2008)

Here are the winning poems.

First Prize goes to an untitled cinquaine (loosely) from Dianne Ladendecker. I was charmed and astonished each time I read this economical little wonder.

The brine
Then there's the knife
It's out of proportion
I hear eerie sounds of half-life

Second Prize goes to Gaye Gambell-Peterson for a pantoum about a middle-aged mermaid. I was intrigued by the well-used effect of the pantoum's interlocking structure, and completely sold on the "C-sharp half-life, caught in the half-light" which mingles echoes of music, radiation/decay/science, time, and water so beautifully.

Mermaid’s Pantoum

I am unrepentant mermaid, middle aged.
Flesh and scales still in seemly proportion,
though wrinkled by brine and tattered by time.
Still adored, a diva of fathomed opera.

Flesh and scales still in seemly proportion,
a siren, chanteuse, my voice a knife-edge
shrill, adorned. A fathomed opera’s diva
in a C-sharp half-life, caught in the half-light.

A siren, chanteuse, my voice a knife-edge
cutting through tides. Me, under the weather,
caught in sea’s half-light with only a half-life,
still luring men with plaintive arias.

Cutting through tides, me, under the weather
though wrinkled by brine and tattered by time,
still luring men with plaintive arias.
A middle-aged mermaid, unrepentant am I.

And Third Prize goes to Elizabeth M. Johnson, who gains an extra point for incorporating the full title of a Cherry Pie chapbook (Kiss Me Cold). Some of the required five words in this poem were used in variant forms (e.g. disproportionate instead of proportion) and although I've seen many contests be strict on that count, I'm constitutionally unable to be strict and so will allow it. The poem's worth it.

Ending It

Last summer, in the months without an “R,”
we ate oysters, the jagged edges of
the shells were sharp against our tongues, the brine
cool in our throats, delicious as the crisp

sea salt against our skin, the beach bonfire,
the Great Bear asterism far above,
an operatic swell in the timeline
of us, peace tenuous but in our grasp.

But now the months have “Rs.” Also, “-embers.”
You lumber toward me, and I try to move
away; your heavy body next to mine
seems wildly disproportionate. You clasp

me, kiss me, cold, your lips a slick steel knife
at my throat. No half measures, just half life.

Congratulations on the great poems! The other entries were wonderful, and I hope everyone had fun with the contest.

Notable lines or moments from other entries, that I just couldn't resist:

From Bobbi Lurie, a prose poem that started off: "brine she says is nothing but the half-life of the pickle. . . "

And from Gail Eisenhart, a sinister love poem that included: "this tryst / has the half-life of house-fly."

To wrap up, an unexpected "non-winner" that simply must be mentioned for its refusal to follow any rules, and for the delightful poem that resulted. This is from Katherine Mitchell, who attempted a poem using the five required words but ended up with a poem that used a form of one of the words, did not use the other four at all, and is titled as a haiku but is, in fact, not a haiku. So here is a poem of . . . great resistance? Katherine sent it in as a non-entry, and I reproduce it here as such. Not a prize-winner, but in many ways a winner!

Summer Haiku

paddle boats float
on two tanks
painted copper lake

paddlers wear pajamas
hold champagne flutes
small rising circles
happy tongues

water smoothed
butter knives in cake frosting

orange bursts
over the horizon
sending heat
inside our paper lantern faces

1 comment:

Gail said...

What wonderful creativity! Enjoyed the winners very much - and had a great time playing with the challenge myself. Gail E.