Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 2018 Poetry Challege

Photo taken by Wilda Morris at St. Francis Woods, March 30, 2012.


There are many of signs of spring here in Illinois: robins, of course, crocuses and daffodils, skunks coming out of hibernation, ants and other insects wakening. Spring is also a time when wild flowers spring up in unexpected places—in the lawn, at the roadside, in the middle of the vegetable garden that hasn’t yet been planted, as well as on the river bank, in the unplowed field, and in the woods.

Here are two poems about wild flowers by contemporary poets:


Wild Flower

A wild thing grew beside my drive
and having little to do with such,
I let it grow,
let it be itself,
and did not worry
about what others would say,
my letting a weed grow like that.

Then it bloomed one summer day,
a long-stemmed and lovely thing,
taupe blending easily into white,
then white into a cloudless blue,
like a cup of beauty
pouring up out of the ground,
pretending to be you.

~ Michael Galati

Used by permission of the poet.

Is this a poem “about” wild flowers? Maybe not, though it seemed to be until the end line, which provides a nice surprise.


William Marr takes his look at a wild flower in a different direction:

Transmigration

Swaying alone in the evening wind
a little blue flower in the wilderness

a passing poet with misty eyes
suddenly turns his head
and gazes at her

One evening centuries later
a faded blue book of poetry
stands in the corner of a dusty bookshelf

a little blue flower in the wilderness
swaying alone in the evening wind

~ William Marr

First published in DuPage Arts Life, 2005. Used by permission of the poet.

Centuries from now, the Chinese version of Marr’s poem may be found in a book on a dusty shelf in Asia, while the English version sits in a book in the United States or Great Britain. And maybe a lover of poetry will find Galati’s in a book on a dusty shelf centuries from now.

Maybe your poem will be on one of those shelves, too.


The April Challenge:

The April Challenge is to submit a poem featuring a wild flower (or wildflowers). It may be free verse or formal.

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). Read previous poems on the blog to see what line lengths can be accommodated.

You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet.

The deadline is April 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray too far from “family-friendly” language (some children read this blog). No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

The poet retains copyright on each poem. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “April Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio that can be printed with your poem if you are a winner this month. Please put your name and bio under the poem in your email.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem.

Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment (no pdf files, please). Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use multiple spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique (I sometimes do it myself). However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred but longer poems will be considered.

Bios:
William Marr was born in China and is one of the best-known and most highly-respected poets in his homeland. He has published fourteen books of poetry (two in 2000) in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. His poems have been included in over ninety anthologies. In addition to writing poetry, he is a sculptor and painter. His Web site contains images of his art work as well as selections from his poetry books. He recently retired as a researcher from Argonne National Laboratory.

Michael Galati was born in Chicago. He holds four degrees from Northern Illinois University, Galati taught English and related subjects for 40 years at Lemont High School where he served as English Chair from 1958 until 1993. Following his retirement, he went on to teach English, public speaking, education and American religion in area colleges and universities for eleven additional years. He also edited his town newspaper, the Lemont Metropolitan, for several years where his weekly column appeared for over twenty years. His single book, Love Me a Village (a book of casual reflections and poetry published in 1976), is long out of print.

©  Wilda Morris

Friday, March 30, 2018

March 2018 Winning Poems

The Corsican Spider in His Web by Thomas Rowlandson, 1808, National Gallery of Art, D.C.

There are two winners in the March challenge for poems about insects or other little creatures thought of as "bugs." Several poems were about spiders. Here is one:


Spider’s Web


intricate as life
spun white
more exact than
Euclid’s geometric calculations
laid delicate and strong
in perfect proportions
of thread
in a basket of pine—
where will I look
for perfection
where will I look
for proof of God

~ Michael Escoubas


I was drawn to the quiet simplicity and spirituality of this poem, to the sense that nature has beauty and perfection we can hardly fathom. It is thought-provoking.

The second winning poem takes a very different turn. It is thought-provoking, too, and subtle.

Later Evolutions


Were there men or women
still, they might discuss, dissent
Darwin's insight or some gods' intentions
as to modifying
miracles and mercies,
and after all the words would wonder
at the Monarchs on high honeysuckle
bowing in the breezes,
for the butterflies sing now
with such strong, sweet voices
in the silences we left.

~   Lennart Lundh

“Later Evolutions” first appeared in Pictures of An Other Day (Writing Knights Press).


On first reading, I wasn’t sure I understood the poem. Then I saw that the poet is asking a question that has occurred to me, too: If the creatures living today—including human beings—are the result of evolution, will we evolve into new forms of life over time? What might replace humans? But I never pondered the ways in which the monarch butterflies (or other creatures) might evolve.


Congratulations to Escoubas and Lundh! They retain copyright on their poems.

Bios:

Michael Escoubas began writing poetry for publication in August of 2013, after retiring from a 48-year-career in the printing industry. Early in life his mother said, You have a gift for words; you should do something with that gift. He writes poetry, in part, because of his mother’s encouraging words. Michael also writes poetry because he believes poetry brings people together and that poets are menders of broken things. Michael has published one chapbook, Light Comes Softly, which is available either as an eBook or hard copy on all major outlets.

Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.



© Wilda Morris






Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 2018 Poetry Challenge - Insects

Insects with Creeping Thistle and Borage by Jan van Kessel the Elder, 1654


Some people are fascinated by insects and other creatures commonly thought of as bugs. Some people hate them, despite the fact that many are important to the diets of many kinds of birds. Of course, we don’t like it when a tick or mosquito takes a nip from our blood! Jenene Ravesloot and I have each written roach poems:


Elegy for a Roach

Her exoskeleton cracked under the chef’s boot.
Now antennae rest on the floor like pieces of
cut thread.

She was carrying forty-one encased eggs when
he chased her down—if only she hadn’t been
burdened by that.

Her four vestigial wings, three pairs of spiny
legs, and small head have been severed. Her
compound eyes no longer see a mosaic world.

She can’t draw air through the holes in her side.
She can’t feel anything. The ceiling light blinks.

~ Jenene Ravesloot

(First published in The Miscreant)


Dance

If you don’t get up
in the night
how will you know
how many cockroaches
have come to dance

on the kitchen floor?
How will you learn
whether they prefer
an airy light waltz
or the beat of a polka

and how many drums
are in their band?
Don’t you wonder
if they dance till dawn                                           
to heavy metal?

Do they form squares,
one roach calling
Bow to your partner?
Do they slip into the shadows,
one couple at a time

~ Wilda Morris




The March Challenge:

The March Challenge is to submit a poem featuring an insect or other creature commonly thought of as a bug (It does not have to be about roaches). It may be free verse or formal. The insect may be used metaphorically or as an example to further an argument (as in John Donne’s poem, “The Flea.” Your poem may include some scientific vocabulary and concepts, as does Ravesloot’s poem, or be whimsical (which is the effect I was going for in “Dance”).

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). Read previous poems on the blog to see what line lengths can be accommodated.

You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet.

The deadline is March 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please do not stray too far from “family-friendly” language (some children read this blog). No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

The poet retains copyright on each poem. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “March Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio that can be printed with your poem if you are a winner this month. Please put your name and bio under the poem in your email.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem.

Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment (no pdf files, please). Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use multiple spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique (I sometimes do it myself). However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred but longer poems will be considered.

Bio:  Jenene Ravesloot is a member of the Poets’ Club of Chicago, Poets & Patrons and the Illinois State Poetry Society. She has led numerous poetry workshops for poetry groups and various Chicago educational institutions. Her poetry has been published in the Chicago Quarterly Review, after hours, THIS Literary Magazine and other poetry journals in print and online. She has published several books of poetry.



©  Wilda Morris