Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February Winning Poems - Ice

Perhaps because of the severe weather we have had in much of the northern hemisphere, ice was a fairly popular topic for poems this winter. The judge for this month, Susan Engebrecht, selected a haiku by Marjorie Pagel. Susan said she “loved the image, the sound, the emotion.” She also liked the memories that the poem evoked for her. She said, “It tickled my insides!”  

Icicles melting . . .
drip drop drip . . . child’s ice cream cone
with the tip chewed off

~ Marjorie Pagel

Marjorie Pagel lives in Franklin, Wisconsin where icicles hang from many roofs. A retired teacher of writing at Concordia University, she spends much of her time volunteering for various organizations.

The second place poem by Anna Yin took the prompt in a very different direction.

Valentine’s Color

The first time, it is red
the second time…pink
then black…

The same date, 
the similar story.

The convenience store sells all kinds of hearts,
long stem roses and numerous chocolates.
The owner prunes extra leaves.

Why do I still buy one, and think of you?

The color in my vase
is white, white like ice.

We fill the vase
with frozen lies.

~ Anna Yin

The judge thought the poem illustrated the steps of a changing relationship and its joys and sorrows in a creative manner. “The final lines, ‘We fill the vase / with frozen lies’ continued to resonate long after reading them.”

Anna Yin was born in China and immigrated to Canada in 1999. Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award and the 2010 MARTY Award. Her poems written in English & Chinese, along with ten translations, were published in a Canadian Studies textbook used by Humber College. She has five poetry books including Wings Toward Sunlight (2011) and Inhaling the Silence (2013). Her poem “Still Life” is displayed on 700 buses across Canada for Poetry In Transit project. Anna is Ontario representative for the League of Canadian Poets. She was a finalist for Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Awards in 2011 and 2012.She works and lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Her website: Annapoetry.com.

The third place poem focused on polar ice:

Polar Ice

The massive bear
scans the horizon,
restless and starving.
Her nursed cubs romp,
oblivious to her growing panic.
Sea ice has not yet thickened.
Vital ice.

Siku--sea ice, life sustaining ice.
Necessary for Inuit and bears
to reach the seals, miles from shore.

Six months
since the bear has eaten.
Two months out of the den.
Still no ice.
Desperate, not sure
her cubs can follow,
she must swim to the seals.

She does not know
why the ice is not forming.
We do.

~ Peggy Trojan

Peggy Trojan, retired from teaching,  lives happily in the north woods of Wisconsin. Published in Naugatuck River Review, Talking Stick, Echoes, Verse Wisconsin, Thunderbird Review, Boston Literary Review, and many other journals and anthologies.

Susan Engebrecht said of this poem, “Polar Ice made an impact on me as I felt the panic, experienced desperation and sadness at how the changes we have inflicted upon our planet have created hardships on others. This poem made me think and spurred me to be more active in finding ways to support changes and build awareness of a growing problem.

Copyright on these poems is retained by the poets who wrote them.  

About the judge for this month: Susan Engebrecht has written stories and poetry for a variety of magazines, Chicken Soup for the Soul,  and Lighthouse of the Carolinas. She also writes a column for the Wausau Daily Herald in Wausau, Wisconsin. She is the Associate Director for the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference and an award-winning speaker with Toastmasters International. Susan has won the Jade Ring, Florence Linderman Humor, Al P. Nelson Feature Article and Bo Carter contests.

NOTE: The January Challenge is still open.

Watch for the March Challenge, coming soon.

© Wilda Morris

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 2014 Poetry Challenge - Ice

Photo used with the permission of Areni Kashkashian

Here in Illinois, we had a very cold January, and where February is promising more snow and cold. And more ice.

Ice brings back memories, including:

1-my grandmother’s ice box (which was replaced by a refrigerator) when I was quite young;
2-learning to ice skate (badly) as a child in Iowa City and improving my ice skating skills on the rink at Notre Dame when we lived in South Bend;
3-ice balls made by the children who lived between our home and Longfellow School- balls which they threw at my sister and me, and also some cousins who lived with us for a while
4-walking on the ice on Ralston Creek – a forbidden activity, but so much fun;
5-Mother reading aloud “The Wreck of the Hesperus” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173920 ); and “The Creation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174348);
6-licking ice cycles and using ice cycles for target practice;
7-suffering a whip-lash injury when I fell on a patch of ice and going to the emergency room with a friend who fell on the same patch of ice and broke her wrist;
8-making ice rings for the punch bowl;
9-watching ice hockey on television;
10-walking into the DuPage River Greenway as far as I could, before the path turned to ice and I had to go back the way I came;
11-enjoying the sparkle of ice on the grass or on a creek, and
12-worrying about the melting of polar ice.

Memories such as these can be good starting points for poems.

William Matthews wrote a poem after he watched buffallo crossing an ice-covered river (See “Herd Of Buffalo Crossing The Missouri On Ice,” Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991 (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1992); found at http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/162.html.

Ice is not just frozen water; it is also a powerful metaphor. When we speak of walking on thin ice we are probably not talking about ice fishing or hiking on the river. We are also using ice as a metaphor when we say “that argument doesn’t cut any ice with me,” or “how did you break the ice when you met her?”

Probably the most famous poem using ice as a metaphor is “Fire and Ice,” by Robert Frost:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~ Robert Frost

What a contrast from the long narrative poems mentioned above! This poem is quite concise and to the point. Wikipedia has two stories about how this poem came to be written; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_and_Ice_%28poem%29.

Here are links to a couple more ice poems:
·        Rosemary Dobson, “The Ship of Ice,” http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/dobson-rosemary/the-ship-of-ice-0337021

·        Claire Beynon, “Thin Ice,” http://othervoicespoetry.org/vol26/beynon/.

·        Gail Mazur, “Ice,” Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems by Gail Mazur (The University of Chicago, 2005);  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/26218.

The February 2014 Poetry Challenge:

Write a poem related to ice. It can be literal ice: ice on the river, ice skating, ice hockey, ice fishing or ice cycles. It can be ice in your glass or under your feet; ice cubes but not a musical group by that name. And not ice cream, which we will save for another challenge later in the year.

Submit only one poem. Your poem can be free or formal verse. If you submit a form poem, please specify the form. The deadline is February 15. Poems submitted after the February 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards, however winners are published on this blog.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”. Be sure to provide your e-mail address. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

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. 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, and not all in capital letters; your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use 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. Please include a short bio with your submission.

And Remember: The January challenge is still open. January and February challenge poems will be read soon after February 15.

DuPage River Greenway. Photo by Wilda Morris, January 2012

© Wilda Morris