Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Challenge Winners

Colorado poet Katie Kingston selected “How to Make Blueberry Pie” by Peggy Trojan as winner of the June Poetry Challenge. Kingston said she chose this poem “because of the poet’s generous appeal to the senses and attention to dialogue. The poem is deeply rooted in a strong sense of place.” She added, “I thank the poet for giving me the opportunity to ‘Enter Quinton swamp at last year’s faded marker.’ It’s a place I won’t forget.”

Here is the winning “How to” poem:

How to Make Blueberry Pie

Enter Quinton swamp at last year’s faded marker.
Keep up with Pa, in his eighties and leading.
Deep in woods, where berries hang like grapes,
powdery blue, warm, kneel.

Listen. “When I was six we took the horses….
water got warm and butter melted on the bread….”
Pretend you never heard of the 1918 fire.
“Dad put us eight kids in a circle in the field ….
My pet ram was killed because he was burned black…”

When your pail is full, blindly follow Pa
through brush slapping your face. Have faith.
You come out right in front of the truck.
Admire the pickings. “By God, we did pretty good.”

Clean berries at picnic table under the pines.
Make crust while Pa makes filling.
Talk about how great berries were last year,
or was it the year before? “Man, it was just blue…..”

Let Pa slice it. “Gramma Uitto cut hers in four…..”
Put ice cream on your piece to cool it,
use a spoon for juice. Smack your lips and laugh
when Pa scrapes his plate, says again, “That’ll sell!”

~ Peggy Trojan

Kingston selected a second place poem also, “How to Rebuild a Head” by Bakul Banerjee, “for the poet’s originality and willingness to experiment with form while dealing with weighty subject matter. The framing reference to ‘cumin in the curry’ successfully creates a sense of the cyclical, a sense of entrapment which is key to the urgency in this poem."

How to Rebuild a Head

The husband smashed her head
against the mantle, the chart said.
Not enough cumin in the curry –
He complained and tried to pour
the hot soup from the stove on her
splashing part of it on himself
then escaping to seek his doctor
as she managed to run outside.
“It was her fault – should have kept
her mouth shut.” Her sister informed.

She laid on the freshly mowed lawn
in front of her fancy mansion.
The morning sun kissed her face
through the plum tree as it shed
purple flowers oblivious to the dog
barking next door. Paramedics came.



Cut scalp
Pick fragments
Take pictures
Connect nerves
Drain brain

Months later, she returned
to the mansion promising
more cumin in the curry.

~ Bakul Banerjee

Winning poets retain copyright to their own poems. Do not copy without their permission.

About This Month's Judge:

Katie Kingston has published two award-winning chapbooks

• El Río de Las Animas Peridadas en Purgatorio, White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2006, First Place White Eagle Coffee Store Press Chapbook Award,available from .

• In My Dreams Neruda, Main Street Rag, 2005, Editor’s Choice, available at .

Kingston, who has won a number of other awards also, is a recipient of the Colorado Council on the Arts Literary Fellowship in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Atlanta Review, Blue Mesa Review, Great River Review, Green Mountains Review, Hunger Mountain, Margie, Puerto del Sol, Nimrod, and Rattle.

You can learn more about Kingston at

Watch for the July Challenge, which will be posted soon.

© 2011 Wilda Morris