Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January 2019 Poetry Challenge - I want to be . . . .

Jacob van Ruisdael
about 1675
Compliments of the National Gallery of Art, London

What did you want to be when you were a child? Did a passing siren convince you that the most exciting future you could pursue was to be a firefighter? Did you want to be like your favorite singer, movie star, or teacher? Did you think you might someday be president or prime minister? What inspired your dream? Who encouraged or discouraged you? Did a calm looking sky give you a sense of calm and make you think you'd like to be a weatherman?


Once, I Wanted to Be the Weatherman 

I saw a sky that took me back to long ago.
Its coat was gray and calm its look to third grade thought.
Then I gazed into the gentle frown my teacher gave
these dreaming eyes.
My hope to be the weatherman
put on her coat to stand in line. . .
for outside games and empty swings
on a playground gone.

~ Barbara Robinette

             previously published by Lucidity

Bio: Barbara Robinette has read and written poetry since she heard “O, Captain My Captain” recited while watching President Kennedy’s funeral procession on television. She is a college drop-out from the 1970s and happily earned her living, first as a bank secretary, then later, as a secretary at a university.

Though she was busy working and raising children, the love of poetry always simmered on the back burner. Now in retirement she has the time to actively pursue both the reading and the writing of poetry. Barbara writes her poems for the everyday, working person.  Several of her poems have appeared in The Penwood Review, Cave Region Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, California Quarterly and others. She has published two books of poetry.

She lives with her woodsman husband, a playful dog and one sleepy cat on an acreage of woods on the Arkansas Ozark Plateau.


The January Challenge:

One interpretation of the challenge for January is to submit a poem recalling what you wanted to be when you were a child. Did you end up fulfilling that dream, or did your goals change as you grew? Ponder the questions above the example poem by Barbara Robinette and see what you come up with. OR maybe once - even as an adult - you wanted to be someone or something other than who you thought your were. Maybe now, you have a wish, a dream, a hope of what/who you may yet become. You can take the prompt in that direction if you prefer.

Your poem may be free verse or formal. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem.

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. Single-space. Note that the blog format does not accommodate long lines; if they are used, they have to be broken in two, with the second part indented (as in the poem “Lilith,” one of the November 2018 winners).  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 January 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. I do not register copyright with the US copyright office, but by US law, the copyright belongs to the writer unless the writer assigns it to someone else.

If the same poet wins three months in a row (which has not happened thus far), he or she will be asked not to submit the following two months.

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 “January 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. If the poem has been published before, please put that information UNDER the poem also.

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.


© Wilda Morris


Thursday, December 27, 2018

December 2018 Winner - Peace-Themed Poem

Moonlight on the Yare by John Crome (c. 1816/1817)
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


There were fewer submissions than usual this month, perhaps because so many people were busy with holiday preparations and celebrations. Nevertheless, there were several very interesting poems from which to choose. A different judge might have made a different selection, but this is the poem I judged best. I like the way it builds from the sentence fragment at the beginning to the optimistic conclusion. I hope you like it also.


The Turn

That longed for presence and peace: 
always already here. Apparent
in the way that moon sends tendrils
of light through reverent branches
and opens the beaks of nightingales
to sing their devotions. It doesn’t
require silence or an absence
of thought. In the midst of chaos, 
fury of cyclone or cacophony of conflict–
just beneath those turbulent waves
and eddies, lies a vast ocean of calm 
fed by streams of kindness. Unnoticed,
its underlying love seems unmanifest. 
Yet even the slightest turn of the mind  
in any moment reveals it. 

~ Carol Alena Aronoff


Bio: Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has published a chapbook (Cornsilk) and 4 books of her poems and photographs: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World as well as Dreaming Earth’s Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz). Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii.

Aronoff retains copyright on her poem.

Look for more prompts in 2019.

I wish you all peace for the new year.

© Wilda Morris