Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse 2012
Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse!
First Prize $3,000
Myron L. Stokes, For My Ancestors
Second Prize $1,000
Vernon Waring, the death of memory
Third Prize $400
Carmine Dandrea, A Trilogy of Love and Loss
Fourth Prize $250
Janet Ireland Trail, Raising My Arm
Most Highly Commended $150
- Ellen Ficarra, Obituary for a Bay Tree
- Sydney Lea, Suite in Mudtime
- Carol Milkuhn, The Rough Wooing
- Tony Peyser, I Want to Live in an Edward Hopper Painting
- Andrea Theisen, Barbas de Oro
- Vernon Waring, Julia Warhola Speaks
First Prize - Myron L. Stokes
"For My Ancestors"
The judges said, "It's vital to remember that in this competition, we are judging not the subject matter (no matter how worthy it may be), but the way it is written. If you submit a poem on a religious theme, for instance, that poem is not going to receive high marks simply because of its subject. In a judge's eyes, the way you write is far more important than what you write about. This First Prize winner is a wonderful example of what one of my early professors would call, 'Proper words in proper places.' What I like about this entry is that the poet gets down to business right from the start. He doesn't waste time preparing the ground or offering his reasons for choosing the subject matter, but links the very first line of the poem with the title itself. He's also not afraid to use telling but unusual adjectives to drive his point home. Nor does the poet mince words. Right from the start he declares My Ancestors 'from opulent lips sang their slave songs from the bottom of hell.' The repetition of the preposition makes the connection doubly potent; but the poet is careful not to overdo this effect and undermine its power. I would have placed a period after hell and then repeated the phrase: 'From the bottom of hell, they sang their dirges ad their ditties...' I still think, that on a first reading, the way I would write it has a slight edge. But if a poem reaches a chief judge's eyes, he or she will read the entry not once or twice but six or seven times. Even on a third reading, the judge is likely to feel that the repetition is superfluous and downgrade the poem as a result. Another of my early professors had a grand maxim to cover this situation: 'When in doubt, leave it out!'"
Second Prize - Vernon Waring
"the death of memory"
The judges said, "Here is a versatile poet who is not afraid to experiment. It's no fluke that he also won a $150 cash award for another entry. Waring obviously believes that it is essential to make the form fit the theme. And what better visualization of memory's death could be possible than a format that employs an extremely hesitant style? There are no more than four words in any one line (and even lines with only one or two). Hesitancy is also cleverly conveyed by occasionally drawing attention to the spacing between words. If the poem came to be recited, how natural it would be to speak slowly, hesitantly, literally gasping for words!"
Third Prize - Carmine Dandrea
"A Trilogy of Love and Loss"
The judges said, "Here is another poet who takes infinite care that his writing ties in neatly and succinctly with his theme. The reader has only to glance at the way the poem is unevenly divided into three sections: The first and shortest: 'The Time Passed By'. Secondly: 'At The Summer Cottage'. And finally, the longest: 'Perpetual Motion'. Occasional, inconsistent rhymes also force home the tragedy of a love that has run its course."
Fourth Prize - Janet Ireland Trail
"Raising My Arm"
The judges said, "This is a very personal poem, dealing with a situation that many of us have faced, but handling it in an admirably decisive and encouraging fashion. Without self-pity, without mincing words, the poet courageously defies the stroke that assaulted her body and deranged her life. 'Yes'" she admits, 'you murdered a piece of my brain...but not of my soul! You stole my freedom...but I will regain my liberty!' Yes, indeed!"
John Howard Reid has won first prizes and other awards in prestigious literary events. A former journalist and magazine editor, he has published several historical novels, a collection of poetry, a guide to winning literary contests, and over fifty books of film criticism and movie history. See his work at Lulu. He lives in Wyong, Australia.
Dee C. Konrad
A leading educator and published author, Mrs. Dee Konrad was Associate Professor in the English faculty of Barat College of DePaul University, and served as Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the year 2000-2001.