Tuesday, February 6, 2018

January 2018 Poetry Challenge Winners

Calliope (Kalliope), engraving by Hendrik Golzius, 1592

Photo compliments of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. 
I apologize for not getting the winning poems from January published sooner. There were a couple of glitches, including unexpected difficulty with email which for some unknown reason prevented the judge from receiving the poems  by email—even though my “sent” box showed that I had sent them. I waited too long to check in with him.

Larry Turner, whose poem, “In Love and War” was an example poem for the January Poetry Challenge, selected the winners. Of the first place poem, Turner said, “The fall and contrition are expressed very well.”

In a Time and Place of Forgottenness

It was in a Time and Place of Forgottenness,
There, where a dark-knuckled acorn,
Discarded, could father many leafy trees,
Where linen need not be reminded of
Its lineage to flax, there, in a
Place of Forgottenness, where the growl of a
Needy ego may water its own garden, there,
Sometimes, a hero can be made.

So it was, an Irish prince, Sentanta,
Young, born lesser, restless, finally
Estranged gently from all he knew,
Wandered in search of a stronger king,
Wandered without a weapon,
Wandered until he triumphed on
Every sun-lit field,
Wandered until he won a High King's
Favor, so that at his table, he
Grew, and grew, and grew,...

       ....one unholy night, when,
Tricked by darkness' masquerade,
Sentanta mistook King Culann's hound for enemy,
Mistook the kindest animal for prey,
'Till moonlight parsed darkness like a curtain drawn,
And Sentanta saw the king's hunting hound,
Laying still as haystacks at dawn.

Then, tears falling like ribbons of silver light,
He cried out his  heartbreak into an unfeeling night.
Humbled, Sentanta saw then the immensity of grief
Begotten by the Janus-faced blade of self-belief.
Weeping, then, Sentanta stood on that sullied ground
And accepted the name Cu Chulainn, promising he'd
Serve forevermore as King Culann's hound.

~ Sheila Elliott 
The poet wrote a note to readers: “ I have tried to evoke the tone, loose meter, informal rhymes and "awkward" phrasing that can occur when myths and legends passed down orally are transferred to the printed page.  This happens in many cultural traditions.  "In a time and Place of Forgottenness" is based on the story of the mythical Irish Prince Sentanta and the events that led to him receiving the name Cu Chulainn.  I used a version of the story found in "A Child's Treasury of Irish Stories and Poems" by Yvonne Carroll as a template.”

The second place poem is about one of the nine muses, Kalliope (often spelled Calliope).
Turner said, "The form, with repeated lines, molds this into a wholeness."


Her name, akin to carol or song,
brings to mind words, music, myth.
Oldest and wisest of the Muses,
she holds a tablet in her hand.

Pondering words, music, myth;
Kalliope, a daughter of Zeus
holds a tablet in her hand,
teaches her son, Orpheus, to sing.

She is a daughter of Zeus,
but has her own, assertive power.
She teaches Orpheus to sing, and
brings epic poetry to the world.

She is assertive and powerful.
doesn’t rely on any God
to bring poetry to the world.
She captures music, adds words; magic.

She relies only on herself.
She is the oldest and wisest Muse.
She captures music, adds words; magic;
creates song poems, strengthened from within.

~ Carol H. Jewell

Third place was taken by a persona poem:

I Become a Man

I awaken to the smell of smoke.
My father is tending the fire.
I quickly dress and help him cook the fish.
As we eat, we speak of strange things,
for this is the day I become a man,
the day we travel together to seek Manitou.

Father dresses me in my new robe,
decorated with colored porcupine quills.
Then he carefully wraps the fire’s hot coals
to carry on our journey.
Together, we travel through the forest,
eager to reach its end and choose the spot
for our sweat lodge.
I try to not think about my empty stomach.

There are fewer trees, now,
and the path has become stony.
My feet hurt so much, 
I have forgotten my stomach.
Soon we come upon small pools of water.
It is time to gather branches.
we build our sweat lodge.
Father breathes on the fire
and sets it ablaze with life.
We sprinkle water onto hot stones.
Manitou comes out in the steam.
I have become a man.

~ Deetje J. Wildes

Note from the poet: Information on the Native American myth of Manitou may be found at en.wikipedia.org

Poems by Annie Jenkin and Angélique Jamail were awarded honorable mentions.

The poets whose work is posted here own copyright on their own poems.

Now what?
The February Poetry Challenge has already been posted. Scroll down to see what it is, and consider entering a poem.

Sheila Elliott is a poet, writer and educator who contributes frequently to the print and spoken word forums in Chicago and its west suburban communities.

Carol H. Jewell is a librarian, teacher, musician, and poet living in Upstate New York with her wife and eight cats. Her first collection of poetry, Hits and Missives, was published in 2017 by Clare Songbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY.

In addition to writing poetry, Deetje J. Wildes enjoys making music and experimenting with visual arts. She is an enthusiastic member of Western Wisconsin Christian Writers Guild, and a regular contributor to “Faith Walk” magazine (Eau Claire, Wisconsin Leader-Telegram).

© Wilda Morris