Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March 2016 Poetry Challenge Winners

Paul Cézanne – Still Life with Apples, 1893-1894
The Getty Museum
Used with Permission
Congratulations to the winners of the March Challenge, and thanks to the Judge, Jamie Ross.

The second place poem appears at first glance to be an ekphrastic poem, i.e., a poem responding to a work of art. Actually, however, it is about an imagined still life painting by Paul Cézanne.

Cézanne’s Still Life

Lying back to back on a pale plate
an orange
and a banana
each dreams
its own dream

Cézanne comes over
gives the banana a half turn
Its graceful bosom now
embraces the plump orange

Instantly the air softens
the color becomes fluid                                                          
and rich

~ William Marr

Jamie Ross wrote, “Cézanne's Still Life” is charming, very simple and quite funny. I'm especially intrigued by the "graceful bosom" of the banana, which to my mind is the understatement of the day and the brilliant key to this droll gem of a poem.”

Here is the winning poem:

Left Waiting at the Diner

He smiles at me from behind the pass thru
his blonde curls and dimpled cheeks
still pushed down under white paper hat
no longer crinkle fresh.

I grin back
twinkling teenage eyes
warm from apple wine
sipped between drags off
Marlboro cigarettes down at the beach
and chugged to calm hacking cough
from a big bowl of weed
a little too harsh for me,
the princess.

But all that aids in the patience
my young boney butt needs
to swivel on a red vinyl covered stool
seated at a cold bleach-smelling counter
waiting for him to finish up.

His parents own the little truck stop
it’s busy as hell when open
plates clattering constant silverware
water glasses rushing to be washed
waitress shoes squeaking for a good tip
and truck driver chatter and chuckles.

At this moment though
there’s only Billy Squire on the radio
my impatient dancing eyes
and a background of
quiet water running
swooshing in a distant sink.

Finally I hear the drain plug pulled
get the wink and nod
and run through the swinging doors
you know, that girly teenagey tip-toe run,
impatiently waiting for him to finish
power lifting the egg-covered apron
off his sweat covered white t-shirt
stuck in a caress to his muscular chest
I throw my arms around his neck
he grabs my waist, pulls me in and…

~ Pamela Larson

Jamie Ross commented that, “Left Waiting at the Diner” “is by far the most adventuresome, developed, sonorous and detail-rich” of the poems he received to judge. He said he loved “the fantastic metaphor and details from the very start.” Of the first four lines, he said, “With a beginning like this, I'm in for the ride!”

The judge added, “The descriptions of the apple wine, ‘chugged to calm a hacking cough /from a big bowl of weed’ and  ‘my young boney butt needs / to swivel on a red vinyl covered stool / at a cold bleach-smelling counter /waiting for him to finish up’ are just fantastic. [The poem gets] the prize just for these . . . along with ‘waitress shoes squeaking for a good tip,’ and my favorite of all: ‘there's only Billy Squire on the radio.’”


Jamie Ross, an artist and poet, was born in Connecticut and grew up in Colorado. He participated in the first National Geographic Yukon expedition. He has lived in Iran, Italy and Mexico. He lives on a mesa west of Taos. His book, Vineyard, was winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize. He is listed in the anthology, Best Poets 2007, and in Who’s Who in American Art. Vineland can be purchased from the publisher at http://fourwaybooks.com/site/vinland/.

Pamela Larson has been published in East on Central, bottle rockets haiku journal,  the CRAM/JOMP series, both online and in anthologies by Dagda Publishing in the UK and on PoetrySuperHighway.com as well as in other anthologies and on blogs. She has won many awards including Highland Park Poetry’s Poetry That Moves Contest in 2012 and 2015. She has coordinated a 32 poet Exquisite Corpse, the Highland Park Poetry Chain Gang Project and the Lights, Camera, Poetry Cinepoem Showcase. She has also had her poetry displayed in John Green’s Northwest Cultural Council Corporate Gallery Art Show Poetic Visions, the SPARK art/poetry projects with the Illinois State Poetry Society and Lemont Art Center and in libraries throughout the Chicago area. Pam has a Pushcart Nomination for her poem I Can Only Imagine.

William Marr has published 23 volumes of poetry (3 in English and the rest in his native Chinese language), 3 books of essays and several books of translations. His most recent book, Chicago Serenade, a trilingual (Chinese/English/French) poetry anthology, was published in Paris in 2015. His poetry has been translated into more than ten languages and included in over one hundred anthologies. Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany. He is a former president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and has received numerous awards, including three from Taiwan for his poetry and translations. A PhD recipient and a retired research engineer, he now resides in a Chicago suburb.

© Wilda Morris