Friday, July 31, 2015

July Challenge Winner - An Advice Poem

The winning poem in the July Poetry Challenge uses a metaphor from soccer to advise a young poet. It is a fairly complex metaphor, but then soccer and the writing of poetry are complex, each in its own way. Here is the winning poem:

Advice to a Young Poet

You don’t have to love
but know it will be your
constant companion

whether your poems
hit readers with the shine
of new currency, or tarnish
the dank water of a well.

Fragile is not futile, but know
when writing is going well
it’s like striking a ball off your foot

perfectly placed to meet
the run a teammate’s
stretching towards the goal—
you feel it,
the vector,
the angle,
the speed
of the ball
in icy coordination
with the speed
of the runner, both
will meet at full go,
 and the ball will land
like a blessed dactyl
for the player’s foot to kiss
but then, 
along the way,
a random divot
catches the ball’s round rind and it all
skitters off to the side like a thought
interrupted, a scattering of words
at a random dog’s bark or the unbidden
memory of a lazy afternoon
and a sudden flash of thigh.
And the phrases tangle, the lines unword.
Deep breath. Again. Start over. Again.

~ Steve Werkmeister
Steve retains copyright on his poem.

I especially like the first stanza, which I think could stand alone as a complete poem, and the next to last line. Congratulations, Steve.

Steve Werkmeister is an Associate Professor of English at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. He teaches composition and literature courses, hangs out with his family, and, when he has time, writes poetry and fiction, even occasionally publishing some.

Linda Wallin, the judge for July, is a retired special ed teacher, speaks German, some sign, and some Spanish. At National-Louis University, she taught teachers how to use educational technology. She writes poetry when she is not quilting, tutors children and adults, and teaches Lego Robotics, Artbotics, and art quilts to gifted children. Linda is Vice-President of Poets and Patrons in Chicago.


Consider attending the Green Lake Christian Writers’ Conference in August. It is the conference that got me serious about writing poetry. And it is for writers of prose, too. Check out the link at The grounds are so beautiful it is almost impossible not to write poetry there. Everyone is kind and helpful. If you are looking for a conference to help you improve your writing, this may be the answer for you.