Sunday, April 29, 2018

April Poetry Challege Winners - Wildflowers

Nancy Jesse, a Wisconsin writer, judged the April Poetry Challenge, on the theme of wildflowers. Here are the two winning poems, along with the judge’s comments on them.


When snow melts
in the deepest shadows
of our Wisconsin woods,
white of wild trilliums
takes its place.
Though my father understood
the state has claimed them
as their own
and threatens fines
for anyone who argues,
he dared every May
to walk the south forty,
his sweetheart
with a large bouquet
of spring
offered in his wide
calloused hand.

~ Peggy Trojan

First published in Rav'n

The judge wrote, “A beautiful tribute to a father now gone, "Trilliums” celebrates the miracle of spring as it rises, in the form of masses of white wildflowers, from the “deepest shadows” of snow and winter. The short lines echo the stem of the trilliums. The line breaks emphasizing the slow revelation of “showing” details about the man who defied the state in order to surprise “his  sweetheart” (I hope the speaker’s mother— but if not, that introduces an element of intrigue). This effective use of line, careful choice of cogent details, and gentle alliteration create a loving portrayal of place and people.”

NOTE: Since 1978, trillium are no longer protected by law if they are on your private land; before that you could be fined or jailed for picking them on your own property.

SECOND NOTE: I learned from reading this poem—and checking a couple of dictionaries—that the plural of “trillium” can be either “trillium” or “trilliums.”

Wild Flower

His greatest desire
was to slow the bloom.

The heart of that hope
lay with the lingering chill,
the tardy arrival of spring.

that the blossom should open
early; he wasn’t prepared.

Sporting his woolen shirt,
from the porch he watched
the new shoot bend and wave
in the chilly, hillside breeze.

If only time would hold still.

Then there was the knock
on the door, the deputy sheriff
talking gravely about the boy,
the young girl, in the speeding car
that crashed on the sharp bend
of the old River Road.

“No!” he answered, “Not mine!”
He cried out—leading the officer
up the stairs to the room
where his flower slept.

the open window,
the lace curtains waving in the cold.

~ Judy Galati

The judge said, “This narrative poem shows a complex interweaving of the metaphoric and literal; the somewhat ambiguous ending proves mysterious, intriguing, and haunting. The unnamed man in the opening seems to be cultivating a flower, but the abrupt turn in stanza six points a reader toward interpreting the flower as a “young girl,” probably the man's daughter, whom he’d hoped to keep from growing up so quickly into a woman (“If only time would hold still”). I am not sure if the young girl, as well as the boy, have died in the end. . . . There’s a surreal quality in this ending; perhaps the flower was planted in remembrance of the girl, and its blooming re-creates her death announcement in the memory of the man.

“This poem shows fine writing — alliteration, extended metaphor, effective line breaks, skillful manipulation of diction, time, tone and mood, powerful imagery.

Congratulations to these two fine poets!


Judy Galati (nee Kilby), formerly Judy DePauw, grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She graduated magna cum laude from Northern, with a major in English and a minor in linguistics. Judy Galati is a published poet who has received a variety of writing awards in local, state, national, and international competition. Beyond holding membership in the Illinois State Poetry Society, and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc., she is an active member of Lemont Writers.

Peggy Trojan lives in the north woods of Wisconsin, and enjoys many different kinds of spring wild flowers; trilliums, violets, forget-me-nots, cowslips, columbine and others. Retired from teaching English, she published her first poem when she was seventy-seven. She has published one full collection, Essence, and three chapbooks of poetry, Everyday Love, Homefront, Childhood Memories of WWII, and Free Range Kids, which recently won a first in the Helen Kay chapbook award. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poetry.

Nancy Jesse has won the Wisconsin Writers’ Association’s Jade Ring contest in three categories: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction. She taught English at West High School in Madison, Wisconsin, and is popular leader at conferences for writers. She has been published in a number of journals including Midwest Review, Wisconsin People and Ideas, and Verse Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 2018 Poetry Challege

Photo taken by Wilda Morris at St. Francis Woods, March 30, 2012.

There are many of signs of spring here in Illinois: robins, of course, crocuses and daffodils, skunks coming out of hibernation, ants and other insects wakening. Spring is also a time when wild flowers spring up in unexpected places—in the lawn, at the roadside, in the middle of the vegetable garden that hasn’t yet been planted, as well as on the river bank, in the unplowed field, and in the woods.

Here are two poems about wild flowers by contemporary poets:

Wild Flower

A wild thing grew beside my drive
and having little to do with such,
I let it grow,
let it be itself,
and did not worry
about what others would say,
my letting a weed grow like that.

Then it bloomed one summer day,
a long-stemmed and lovely thing,
taupe blending easily into white,
then white into a cloudless blue,
like a cup of beauty
pouring up out of the ground,
pretending to be you.

~ Michael Galati

Used by permission of the poet.

Is this a poem “about” wild flowers? Maybe not, though it seemed to be until the end line, which provides a nice surprise.

William Marr takes his look at a wild flower in a different direction:


Swaying alone in the evening wind
a little blue flower in the wilderness

a passing poet with misty eyes
suddenly turns his head
and gazes at her

One evening centuries later
a faded blue book of poetry
stands in the corner of a dusty bookshelf

a little blue flower in the wilderness
swaying alone in the evening wind

~ William Marr

First published in DuPage Arts Life, 2005. Used by permission of the poet.

Centuries from now, the Chinese version of Marr’s poem may be found in a book on a dusty shelf in Asia, while the English version sits in a book in the United States or Great Britain. And maybe a lover of poetry will find Galati’s in a book on a dusty shelf centuries from now.

Maybe your poem will be on one of those shelves, too.

The April Challenge:

The April Challenge is to submit a poem featuring a wild flower (or wildflowers). It may be free verse or formal.

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). Read previous poems on the blog to see what line lengths can be accommodated.

You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet.

The deadline is April 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray too far from “family-friendly” language (some children read this blog). No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

The poet retains copyright on each poem. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “April Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio that can be printed with your poem if you are a winner this month. Please put your name and bio under the poem in your email.

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 (no pdf files, please). 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 (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use multiple 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.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred but longer poems will be considered.

William Marr was born in China and is one of the best-known and most highly-respected poets in his homeland. He has published fourteen books of poetry (two in 2000) in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. His poems have been included in over ninety anthologies. In addition to writing poetry, he is a sculptor and painter. His Web site contains images of his art work as well as selections from his poetry books. He recently retired as a researcher from Argonne National Laboratory.

Michael Galati was born in Chicago. He holds four degrees from Northern Illinois University, Galati taught English and related subjects for 40 years at Lemont High School where he served as English Chair from 1958 until 1993. Following his retirement, he went on to teach English, public speaking, education and American religion in area colleges and universities for eleven additional years. He also edited his town newspaper, the Lemont Metropolitan, for several years where his weekly column appeared for over twenty years. His single book, Love Me a Village (a book of casual reflections and poetry published in 1976), is long out of print.

©  Wilda Morris