Tuesday, December 28, 2021

December 2021 Winners - Poems about Dance

The Lundeens - 60th Anniversary Dance

Many of the poets who submitted poems this month took the theme of “dance” in unexpected directions. The touching photo above is of the parents of Peggy Trojan, whose poem won first place.

Last Dance

I regret
not bringing
a tape and player
to the nursing home
when my father
at ninety-eight
was fading.
He could have listened
to some Finnish waltzes
and spun my mother
around the wooden floor
of the old Lawler dance hall
until they were both
out of breath and dizzy
with love.

~ Peggy Trojan


“Last Dance” was published in Boston Literary Magazine 2015. The judge remarked that “In very few words this poet has said it all and created two pictures, the son [or daughter] visiting Dad and [her] parents dancing. I loved the time movement and story line in this poem.”


Second place went to a prose poem:


As we leave LaSalle Street


to catch a bus for an afternoon at the Shedd, the sound of a busker's Deerness Two Step coming up the corridor of red marble attracts our daughter, pulling her forward in the stroller. We round the corner before the escalators and she begins to laugh at the carefully suited,

smiling man with tufts of white hair blooming like open cotton balls under his fedora. Reflected light makes the steel strings of his fiddle shimmer, shine like Orion's Belt where they cross the flattened arch of the bridge behind the bow. My wife lifts our toddler, stands her on the stack-bond tile where she strikes that spread-legged, arm-flapping stance universal to happy two-year olds and begins to dance. Meeting her energy, accustomed to audiences of all ages, the maybe-a-grandfather shifts to The Blue Danube Waltz, rises fluidly, and twirls around the space with a maybe-future-Terpsichore keeping place by his side until the music ends. They bow, resume respective seats, and wave each other good-bye, off on their memory-joined journeys.


~ Lennart Lundh

“As we leave LaSalle Street” first appeared in The River Singing (Workhorse Writers, 2019). Marjorie Rissman responded, “How lovely! The street musician playing for the toddler, creating for both a memory. I was greatly touched by this poem.” The poet is deft in his development of images.


A different mood is evident in the third place poem.


for your entertainment
you turn the faux Persian carpet
into an imaginary stage
line up kitschy figurines
and Matryoshka dolls
on the cabinet
transform them as spectators
for extra theatricality
enhance the plain white walls
with cheap China-made rotating lights
for that once-in-a-lifetime solo performance
you wear the most perfect ensemble:
a meticulously ironed suit and tie
checkered trousers and silly colorful socks 
sans the leather shoes
play nostalgic 90s Eurodance music
trippy psychedelic beats with animation
mirrored on your television
the world is on lockdown
dancing to a different tune
isolation is protection
distancing is the new norm
who cares if you dance alone?

~ Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo

The judge also found this poem moving, especially as people are again (or still) isolated and quarantined by the pandemic, and perhaps dancing alone. The title, in which the poet finds the word “dancing” in the word “distancing,” is clever and expresses well the content of the poem.


These poets retain copyright to their own work.


Congratulations to the winning poets and thanks to others who submitted their work this month. Come back on January 1 to check out the new challenge! I wish all readers a happy and fulfilling 2022.

Lennart Lundh is a poet, photographer, short-fictionist, and historian. Hiw work has appeared internationally since 1065. Len often participates in open mics and as a featured poet in Illinois, and reads his work in Ohio, Indians, and Pennsylvania several times a year (at least in "normal" times). 

Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo is a multidisciplinary writer, researcher, and nomadic visual ethnographer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Art Studies (Interdisciplinary) from the University of the Philippines and a double post-graduate degree (with distinction) in International Performance Research and Theory of Art and Media, Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom and the University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, respectively under the Erasmus Mundus programme. After years of being nomadic, he is now settled in the Philippines and has recently renewed his penchant for weaving words together. Sherwin can be found at https://www.instagram.com/antibiotyx. 

Our judge this month, Marjorie Rissman, seems to pop up everywhere. She is a member of Poets and Patrons, Illinois State Poetry Society, Deerfield Library Poets, and is treasurer and a board member of the literary magazine East on Central, which is one of the journals in which she has been published. Most recently, after eleven years of being an active participant, she was asked to be one of five poets to organize Highland Park Poetry’s monthly meetings and open mic.

Peggy Trojan's last chapbook, River, placed second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2021 chapbook contest, and was given an Award of Outstanding Achievement by the Wisconsin Library Association. She has published two full collections, and four chapbooks. Her books are available on Amazon. 



© Wilda Morris