Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 2014 Poetry Challenge Winners


The May judge was Caroline Johnson, President of Poets and Patrons of Chicago. She selected first, second and third place poems. It is interesting that the first and third place poems had the same abstract title. They are very different, though. The first place poem is a Pantoum; the second and third place poems are both free verse. Here is the first place winner:


Sunlight on spring day promises something new.
Whisper of warm wind chases memories of snow,
leaving bird song to console
calls for life to begin.

Whisper of warm wind chases memories of snow.
buds of green and blossoming leaves
call for life to console,
graced by light, a new day.

Buds of green and blossoming trees
color the land around me green
graced by light, a new day,
with great joy I recall.

Color the land around me green
enriches weary visions.
With great joy I recall
the many seasons I’ve known.

Enriches weary visions I’ve known
I call this spring a time of my own,
the many seasons I’ve known
when warm winds  touch my soul.

~ Mike Bayles

The judge commented that “the title is abstract, yet the poem itself doesn’t tell us, it “shows” us appreciation through rich imagery and concrete details such as “buds of green and blossoming trees.” The content works well as a Pantoum.

Second place went to the following poem:


All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put beauty on the map.
Beauty is truth and truth is beauty.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
All men seek beauty—
It is said the two words most said by men before making love is:
“You’re beautiful,”
And yet no one knows what it is.
The destroyer of strong men and their horses,
The fields of flowers go on
But the men and their horses are gone,
Until the next trip.

Julianne Carlile

The judge found this poem intriguing, and said, “I love the concept.”

The third place poem is about gardening:


Cold wet knees on knobby ground
The irritating whine of a mosquito
Thick smear of mud on my cheek
From my missed swipe at the flying demon

When did gardening become painful?
An aching back; tight shoulders
Knowing it will be less painful to stay put
Than to rise

Then…. in one moment……
A slanting flash of brilliant sun
Illuminates my tulips
Into dancing flames of red and yellow

I see their beauty against the sapphire sky
I smell the earth
I feel the sun
And smile

~ Mary Cohutt

The judge said, “"Wonderful concrete details to describe the art of gardening, and good abstract word for the title.  You do a good job of “showing” the reader what you are trying to convey without “telling” him or her.  Love the line “dancing flames of red and yellow.”  I can also feel your pain (and I don’t really garden!).

Bios of the winners:

Mike Bayles, a lifelong Midwest resident, writes about different kinds of human connections, including connections with nature. His poetry publishing credits include The Rockford Review, Lyrical Iowa and Coffee-Ground Breakfast. Threshold his first book of poetry, was the 2013 Book of the Year for Rockford Writers Guild. See Mike's website at

Julianne Carlile is a poet, author, and screenwriter who lives with her long-haired Chihuahua, Nicky, in Wisconsin. See her poetry at

Mary Cohutt is a Leasing Consultant from Western Massachusetts. She also has her own business, "The Good Daughter," which provides business assistance to older people.  She has two adult children and two grandchildren. 

Thank you to Caroline Johnson for judging the May submissions and congratulations to the winners.

Check the blog on June 1 for a new challenge.

© Wilda Morris

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 2014 Poetry Challenge


May 2014 Poetry Challenge

While Caroline Johnson and I were planning a workshop for the Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago in April, we came across Carl Sandburg’s poem “Happiness.” We both liked the poem, and Caroline immediately saw the possibility of using it as a prompt. I have borrowed her idea for this month. Here is the poem:


I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
     me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
     thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
     I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
     the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
     their women and children and a keg of beer and an

~ Carl Sandburg

Caroline and I were both impressed with the way Sandburg began with an abstract noun, but ended up with a concrete example of what he thought might really represent happiness. He tells us he didn’t find a good definition of happiness when he asked professors and famous executives. But by serendipity he happened on a group of people experiencing happiness.

The May Poetry Challenge

There are two kinds of nouns, abstract nouns and concrete nouns. We experience concrete nouns with our senses; they can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. “Kitten,” “oak,” “senator,” and “mosquito” are examples of concrete nouns.

Abstract nouns are those which name states of mind, ideas, concepts, qualities, and so on. They are not experienced directly by our senses. Examples include “loyalty,” “faith,”  “misery,” and “appreciation.”

For the subject—and title—of your poem, select an abstract noun (you may refer to one of the lists found on-line, such as the one at

Move in some way from that abstract term to one or more concrete illustrations.

Your poem may be a little shorter than Sandburg’s, or somewhat longer, but don’t make it a lot longer than his. You can write free verse, as did Sandburg, or you can use a form (if you use a form, identify it on your submission).

Submit only one poem. The deadline is May 15. Poems submitted after the May 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 one poem only 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.

And Remember: The January challenge is still open, and will be until there are a few more submissions. Check the January post for complete rules.

© Wilda Morris