"Cold Dying Black Wet Cold Early Thing" by John Elizabeth Stintzi [pictured]
Read judges' comments and an interview with John Stintzi here.
"Weight" by Erin Soros
Read judges' comments and an interview with Erin Soros here.
A recent series of poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey in the Spoon River Poetry Review is a testament to the tenacity of poetry and its poet. In her first chapbook, Female Comic Book Superheroes (Pudding House Publishing, 2005), I met Gailey as a stealthy kick-ass feminist poet. Her works were subtle but fierce, drawing character, voice, and reader into a collective sense of powerful control. Her following five books continued on this vein through recurring themes of mythology, fairy tale, feminism, science, science fiction, and the apocalypse. Through the years, I also kept up with her blog, where she shared her diagnosis of MS. But, as she first noted, back in 2013, “. . . I don’t want to define myself by this or any of the other weirdo health stuff I have. I am maybe a mutant, but I have a lot of good things in my life too.”
Elizabeth Spencer Spragins’ passion for bardic verse in The Language of the Bones is irresistible. I can’t imagine a writer who, after reading this, wouldn’t try her hand at it or even use this as a class text to inspire students. Though Spragins does not provide ‘guidelines’ for the forms she utilizes – four Welsh (cywydd llosgyrnog, rhupunt, clogyrnach, cyhydedd hir) and one Gaelic (rannaigheacht ghairid) – a Google search offers plenty of resources (including an article by Spragins herself).
This “American Journeys in Bardic Verse” takes readers from Virginia to South and North Carolina, the deserts of the Southwest, the forests of the Northwest, and all the way to Alaska. Each poem is accompanied by endnotes to provide historical and cultural contexts. Because Spragins has specifically chosen to give “voice to the unspoken, the overlooked, and the forgotten,” these poems require prior knowledge for greatest appreciation, and each is a kind of history lesson. The “starving time” in colonial Jamestown; the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation from their homeland; people, events, and landmarks of the American Civil War and the south are subjects Spragins educates her readers about through deftly crafted meter and rhyme which, she instructs, is traditionally read aloud.
Spragins also includes contemporary issues and does not shy away from controversy, as in her poem “At Standing Rock,” commenting on the treatment of Lakota Sioux. “Polar Night,” “Hunters,” and “Northern Lights” stand in witness to the devastations of climate change. And the book closes on a series of poems that return to places where nature and spirituality intersect, in “Sedona,” “The Garden of the Gods,” the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (“Sacred Songs”), and Muir Woods (“Spires”). A looking outward from who and where we are physically to something much greater and beyond.
Read more about Elizabeth Spencer Spragins and The Language of the Bones in an interview with Ceri Shaw on AmeriCymru.
Review by Denise Hill
American Life in Poetry: Column 745
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
The following poem by James Davis May, published in 32 Poems Magazine, has a sentence I'd like to underline, because it states just what I look for in the poems I choose for this column: "We praise the world by making / others see what we see." Here we have moonflowers opening, for a man and his daughter, and for us. The poet lives in Georgia and is the author of Unquiet Things from Louisiana State University Press.
Tonight at dusk we linger by the fence
around the garden, watching the wound husks
of moonflowers unclench themselves slowly,
almost too slow for us to see their moving—
you notice only when you look away
and back, until the bloom decides,
or seems to decide, the tease is over,
and throws its petals backward like a sail
in wind, a suddenness about this as though
it screams, almost the way a newborn screams
at pain and want and cold, and I still hear
that cry in the shout across the garden
to say another flower is about to break.
I go to where my daughter stands, flowers
strung along the vine like Christmas lights,
one not yet lit. We praise the world by making
others see what we see. So now she points and feels
what must be pride when the bloom unlocks itself
from itself. And then she turns to look at me.
We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by James Davis May, "Moonflowers," from 32 Poems Magazine (Number 16.2, Winter, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of James Davis May and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their final Short Story Award for New Writers competition. The award was given for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared with a circulation greater than 5000.
1st place goes to Rachael Uwada [pictured] Clifford of Baltimore, Maryland, who wins $2500 for “What the Year Will Swallow.” Her story will be published in Issue 106, the final issue of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be her first fiction publication.
2nd place goes to Douglas Kiklowicz of Long Beach, California, who wins $500 for “I Used to Be Funny.” His story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing his prize to $700. This will be his first fiction publication.
3rd place goes to Ashley Alliano of Orlando, Florida, who wins $300 for “Trust.” Her story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing her prize to $700. This will be her first fiction publication.
Here’s a PDF of the Top 25.
Glimmer Train has chosen the winning stories for their final Family Matters competition. This award was given for a short story about families of any configuration.
1st place goes to Robin Halevy [pictured] of Big Pine Key, Florida, who wins $2500 for “Bright Ideas for Residential Lighting.” Her story will be published in Issue 106, the final issue of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be her first fiction publication.
2nd place goes to Arthur Klepchukov of Germantown, Maryland, who wins $500 for “The Unfinished Death of My Grandfather.” His story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing his prize to $700.
3rd place goes to Christa Romanosky of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who wins $300 for “Ways to Light the Water on Fire.” Her story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing her prize to $700.
Here’s a PDF of the Top 25.