Friday, December 26, 2014

December Poetry Challenge Winners

The December Poetry Challenge was to write a poem about the passing of the old year and/or the arrival of the new year; a poem about the defining events of the year that is almost over; or a poem that express your hopes, dreams or plans for the coming year. It could be a prayer, an ode or a lament, in free or formal verse. The judge for this month was Barbara Eaton who, for the last ten years, has served as contest chair for Poets & Patrons of Chicago.

Third place was won by a sports-related poem:

The Big “O”

Her faithful participation in “Girls on the Run”
gave this fifth-grader the experience and steam
that the coach found valuable during tryouts
for a girls’ basketball team.

“Basketball is more than shooting the basket,” said the coach,
“but that’s a skill you can develop.”
Dribbling, passing, evading, eyes all around,
faking, and planning a move, too, are tops.

Way back in time, when grandma played basketball
in 7th and 8th grades, she too had some skills,
but only on half-court, per the stringent rules.
If players went over mid-line, the whistle was shrill.

On one end of the court, her job was to guard.
On the other, her job was to shoot.
Adept at guarding the forwards, she also
guarded the guards when on the other side. Ooops!

The Oakdale team became city-wide champs and she got her prized “O”, 
entered high school, but girls couldn’t play
because teams were only for boys who needed
what sports provided for their dossiers.

When Title IX became law,
girls got to play the school sports, but they were rarities.
It took quite a while for them to have gear, lockers, coaches
and time on the playing fields to approach parity.

Then in 2014 young Mo’ne Davis, who “threw like a girl”, had the gall
to earn a no-hitter in the national finals of Little League baseball.

~ Jeanne Gerritsen

Jeanne Gerritsen was a life-long resident of Michigan except when she traveled to Mexico, Canada, England, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Moscow and Uzbekistan for many weeks at a time to study, teach, observe and photograph. She moved in 2012 to Chicago to be near her daughter and family when she retired--again. She is a relative new-comer to writing poetry, having written news articles, speeches, brochures, advertising, film, most of her adult life. She is a recipient of several professional awards.

The second place poem came at the prompt from a very different perspective:

Date Inconsequential: New Year

This calendar is blank. What does it mean?
The numbers lie below. They spell whatever.
I choose a square to designate the now. 
I want to name it number twenty-five.
The number matters not. What really counts
Is you and I together, and it’s now.
On April first a turkey salad means
Thanksgiving, conjuring up good things,
And June the twenty-first produces toys
From Santa.  And so who can tell?
The greatest joy of all may rise within
On January first or second when,
Through snow, we hear the other’s voice
And offer gift of listening heart to heart.
With you and me, the date’s not on a chart.

~ Julia Rice

Julia Rice admired the biography of Louis V. Clark III, spoken at a conference of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.  He interspersed his story with his poems.  She thinks that might work for her, whose poems have appeared in WFOP Museletters and 2014 and 2015 Calendars, Songs of St. Francis, Echolocations:Poets Map Madison, Goose River Anthology 2013, Alive Now, Soundings Review, Stoneboat, and on the Internet in Wilda Morris’ Poetry Challenge. It might even be more interesting than the computer newsletter she edits: WAUCtalk.

The first place winner focused on the Winter Solstice. Here is the winning poem:

Winter Solstice

The herb garden has been cut back: rosemary, thyme,
sage, and oregano. All the strawberry plants huddle
beneath burlap cloth like coddled babies. The pear
tree still holds a few brown leaves.

My breath mists like steam from a whistling kettle
as I stand on the back porch in a winter coat. You
wander into the kitchen in your flip flops and call
out to me to join you.

I can smell the pungent scent of the upside down
bells of Ireland that hang from the kitchen ceiling.
Dried and blanched stalks hide their tiny flowers
in each beige calyx.

I begin to wipe one beaded windowpane clean
so you can see it, this new world outside, dusted
with snow.

~ Jenene Ravesloot

Jenene Ravesloot is a member of the Poets’ Club of Chicago, Poets and Patrons of Chicago, The Illinois State Poetry Society and Virtual Arts Collective. Her poetry has been published in many journals online and in print. Jenene Ravesloot has published three books of poetry and regularly runs writing workshops at Chicago venues.

Congratulations to the three winners. They retain copyright to their poems. Please do not reproduce them without permission.

Check this blog again on January 1 for a new poetry challenge.

© Wilda Morris