2019 Poetry Contest | Local News | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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2019 Poetry Contest 

Out of 400+ poems entered in the contest, these are the 2019 winners!

People entered over 400 poems into the 2019 Source Poetry Contest—a grand representation of the breadth of creativity in our community!

DESIGN BY SHANNON COREY
  • Design By Shannon Corey


We extend our thanks to the first round of judges—students in the low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at OSU-Cascades, and the second round of judges—local poets including Kit Stafford, Irene Cooper, Jenna Goldsmith and Brigitte Lewis—for their participation. And a big thank you to the Deschutes Public Library for its donation of cash prizes/gift cards for the top three winners!

See you at the reading this Sunday, where the winners and judges will read! (more info below)

First Place

This Economy
By Kevin Miller
Aspen quake like loose change
through still pine. What moves
some is not enough for others.
Sun and shadow play tricks
against jack-pine trunks. What
some make of it, others reckon
on their own time. Spare change
before breakfast, the palms
of back sleepers open to receive
windfall profits, such easy money.

On the Poem:
This poem puts on display the poet's dexterity: we notice the precision of seeing objects in their context ("loose change / through still pine"; "Spare change / before breakfast"), and the inexactness of human witness ("some"; "others"). —Jenna Goldsmith

Command of language and clear imagery. This piece is concise but powerful. —Brigitte Lewis

Internal rhyme, concision, and a pleasant tension in the metaphor made this a
poem I went back to again and again. —Irene Cooper

This poem is economic in scale and in seeming effort - yet it is simply the perfect weight of a poem as in "open palms" —Kit Stafford

Second Place

After Eden
By Marc Drexler

Imagine emotion made of metal leaves.
Birch-chime silver for love,
coppered chinquapin, sorrow. Comb
a forest floor littered with letters,
an alphabet of feeling amid fractal
fronds of ferns. Curled alder afloat on a fall rill
glitters light, like aluminum laughter,
or, gilded, sinks us with guilt.
Sycamores reclaim patience with a clean
nickel glint, and tin tupelos bend in uncertainty.

Words are wind,
the dwindled original language
blown through branches before
Babel fell,
the voice of a luffed vessel's
whispered flaps, puffed air
erupted from fissures, surf
spray, the whisper of sparrows' wings.
A harsh sentence is the susurrus of fallen
slaves expelled from bliss.

We breathe the dusted duff
of pulverized pleasure, fear, and pity,
feel reflections off those lost alloys,
leaves of Eden under moonlight's spell,
motes in a beam of the primal lamp.
Poetry is pure water, a tisane of sanity,
dilute, dissolved droplets
from the chakra of creation
nurtured centuries in certain clear lakes,
the call of loons, the lean of willows.

On the Poem:
This poem embraces an inventiveness offset beautifully by a clear love of what language can do other than direct. I enjoyed the metallic ping of "glitters light, ... / or, gilded, sinks us with guilt," and ""nickel glint, and tin tupelos." The image of "motes in a beam of the primal lamp" reinvigorates familiar moonlight. I can shy away of the ars poetica, and almost do in the last stanza, but am brought back by "certain clear lakes." —Irene Cooper

What a delicious mixture of words - the tastes of metallurgy, alliteration is felt like quaking aspen is seen and then the descent into my favorite things - clear lakes, loons and willows. Wow. The rich alchemy of words in this poem is pure celebration. —Kit Stafford

Third Place

Argentum
By Meli Broderick Eaton

I see you there, silver
as you fade, brighter now
because I notice, because I know
the shadow running at us
in this shining moment.
Now, I understand kenning,
the interpretation of my rhythms
informing me:
the gift, you see,
is in knowing our hearts
will break at the same time
when you leave
when you give up
your kinblood bones
for the relief of flight.
I bend
nearer the seeping still
of your threadbare heart
to cover the chill growing
across your paper skin.

On the Poem:
Gorgeous and surprising language, fine lineation, a "shining moment" indeed. —Irene Cooper

Fourth Place

Missing, Presumed?
By Catherine Brereton

Carelessly:
          t-shirt (Genesis, 1986 tour)
          school bus pass (1983, Derbyshire)
          sock (brown, with squirrel)
          appendix (pustulous, emergent)
          balloon (1979, yellow)
          doll ("Betty," pink dress)

Temporarily:
          parents (1974, Ashton-under-Lyne Market Hall)
          daughter (Thursday afternoon, the walk home from school)

Traumatically:
          tooth (upper mandible, left side)
          nail (middle finger, left hand)
          flesh (shin, right leg)

Regretfully:
          ovaries (two, cyst-filled)
          ash tray (brass, Grandma's)
          book (Lady Chatterley, water-stained)
          friend (2001, Michaela)

Intentionally:
          wisdom teeth (four, shattered first)
          gallbladder (with stones, multiple)
          uterus (8.4lbs, boggy)
          moles (two, pre-cancerous)
          lovers (several, unsuitable)

On the Poem:
What can I say? I love a list, and a hermit crab. It's a clever poem, but not so clever as to bury emotion. I like the formality of the last word, "unsuitable." I can't help but think it could be even more powerful in its constraint if it were ordered differently. —Irene Cooper

This poem is shocking. It is a story made of a list. Its impact is made evident through the oddly biased categories of data. In wondering who is making the judgement I reflected on how blinded we are by evidence reported to us from certain news sources on a regular basis. —Kit Stafford

Fifth Place

Viki
By Cat Finney

I'm thinking about those two Ponderosas
leaning into each other on the banks
of the Metolius. Not holding each other up
exactly—this is not that kind of poem—but existing
together, one living, one a snag, with the
triangle of space between them drawing
down the blue sky, framing
the busy particulate of the river basin—
bitter brush, asters, grey squirrels, Townsend's chipmunks,
wild rose, willows—and I'm thinking
now is the time for us all to breathe
in the spawning vigorous minutiae of this place. Really,
what I want to tell you, Viki,
is that all our lives
are contained like this, and I want you to know
how your life framed ours
for one big green, twinkling,
animated moment, a blessing.

On the Poem:
Lovely, lovely voice—thoughtful and dynamic, particularly in the first half of the poem. —Irene Cooper

This love poem built between two trees and what they frame is space for all that fits to say exactly what it does say about the moment of clear awareness - gratitude. Even within the poem we find the poet speaking lest we get
sentimental - be awake to the world! —Kit Stafford

Honorable Mention

Sack of Birds
By Ellen Waterston

They say when lost in the woods, stay put. So I haven't
moved in decades. But I have mapped my small encampment
at the base of this tree, and every night gazed overhead, taken
inventory of the brilliant, fiery arc of meteors. As to all these
evergreens, I thought trees claimed beauty from root and soil.
But beauty, like love, is homeless. At the very least
I have come to know this. And, that the forest is for the tree.

What if I left and things fell apart, would I hear them fall? My thin
shoulder leans daily into difficult questions of earth
and sky. Today, today I will take heart in hand. There's reason
to do so: they say the membrane between the living
and the dead is thin in October. It's my chance to cross over.

Listen. Is that the bark of a bloodhound? Sound of a search plane?
If I have my bearings right, not far away folks carry on up and down
the river of their allotted time here. They'll be closing up their summer
cabins, locking shutters, hanging bunk mattresses from the rafters
to discourage rodents. They'll discard the sour dough starter, break open
the extra flour sack filled with birds that will flutter into the dusk, puncture
soft holes in the night, let starlight through, like pin lights, like lovers
making love to love. It's cold here.

On the Poem:
Brilliant and strange those birds bursting right out of this poem, out into the sky. We are so much in this woods encampment when we read this poem - we are listening, we know it is cold here and we are with a sure guide whose ideas create constellations in our minds. —Kit Stafford

I enjoyed the diction and unabashed weirdness of this poem. Although I'm not
always certain where I am in this poem or with whom, I love where the poem leaves me, with that last line. —Irene Cooper

Honorable Mention

Peeling an Orange
By Suzanne Burns

You sit cross-legged on your bed like nothing ever happened
the day you are released from the hospital.

I go shopping,

buy blueberries you will never eat,
salmon you will place in your freezer and forget,
organic peanut butter,
a bag of Mandarin oranges
                                                                                               Mandarin oranges,
                                                                                               we both know,
                                                                                               will not cure you,
the nurses and doctors letting you go
once the alcohol is gone,
                                                                                                                                  knowing
it will find its way back to you in a month or two
of being left alone while I go back
to my husband and watch him drink,

the pendulum

I will swing on for months before leaving, many fights, many drinks,
guilt, bargaining, apologies,

but this afternoon we pretend
you are healed and everything
will be like it is in an Afterschool Special
we both grew up watching,

the handsome, troubled boy
sitting on the edge of the bed peeling
an orange the neighbor girl brought him.

Look, they marvel, it is so juicy.
Look, they exclaim, like it's the single most important revelation,

there aren't even any seeds.

On the Poem:
Sensual piece that uses scene to ground the reader. Nice use of language. —Brigitte Lewis

I appreciate the terrific scene-making of this poem, its voice, its attention to sensory detail, the way tension and emotion are held suspended, simply and beautifully, in the final three lines. —Irene Cooper

The characters here, unable to heal each other, reveal an unsaid understanding to us. From those benign little mandarins there are no seeds planted or, at least, not planted deep enough to change the course of a disease. We are let inside the story with perfect descriptions that are spare and precise. —Kit Stafford

See the Poets Read Live!
Featuring the winners and judges in the Source/OSU-Cascades MFA/Deschutes Public Library Poetry Contest
Sun., Nov. 24. 2pm
Downtown Bend Library, Brooks Room
601 NW Wall St., Bend

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