Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest 2009
Congratulations to the winners of the 2009 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest!
First Prize $2,000
Rita McGregor, Baby Girl
Second Prize $1,000
Carmine Dandrea, In the Delhi Station
Third Prize $500
Tony Peyser, What I Did in the 20th Century
Fourth Prize $250
Susan J. Katz, The Bowpicker
Most Highly Commended $200
- Mary Jean Chan, In Search of Paradise Lost
- Joseph Gorman, A Walk
- Susan Keith, Climbing the Water Tower
- Joseph A. Soldati, Lullabies for Tonight
- Gisela Vigil, Milk and Cookies for Grandma
Highly Commended $100
- Clyta Coder, No Gift Ever Loved Me More
- Liz Davies, Dry Parched Kisses
- Harry E. Gilleland Jr, The Nature Trail
- Joseph Gorman, Soft Summer Rain
- Martin Steele, Single Malt
- Marie Delgado Travis, Beslan, What If…
First Prize - $2,000 - Rita McGregor
Contest judges John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad said, "Dualism! Oddly enough that quality emerged as the theme for all four of this year's major prizewinners. The premier entry expresses that theme very strongly, yet in a totally natural and, in a sense, wholly unobtrusive way. The poet's sensitivity is so deep that she recognizes the contrast not only in what she observes in the present, but from what she holds in her heart from the past. The poem flows easily and engagingly in a beguilingly natural rhythm, with no obtrusive effects, absolutely no hints of artifice or strain. This superb level of facility is extremely difficult to achieve, but Rita McGregor has wedded theme, narrative and moral with such perfection, the poem engagingly flows and makes its devastating point with seemingly no effort on the poet's part at all. Now this is truly what the art of writing is all about!"
Second Prize - $1,000 - Carmine Dandrea
"In the Delhi Station"
The judges said, "In the Second Prize entry, the dualistic themes of time and train, observer and observed are introduced right from the very opening lines. The writer then expands upon this theme magnificently in the body of the poem with his brilliant idea of using the train's super-polished wooden panels as a reflective (in both senses of that word) mirror. This leads into some truly wonderful images as 'the sunny worker stretches long'—and all of it caught in the net of his poetic senses. The final stanza with its abrupt break in mood and atmosphere is beautifully topped off by the reference to the Taj Mahal, which firmly identifies the narrator as a tourist, and thus provides a perfect conclusion to a perfect poem."
Third Prize - $500 - Tony Peyser
"What I Did in the 20th Century"
The judges said, "Tony Peyser's ingenious entry was always listed among the top three. Now here is a poem that deliberately calls attention to itself and challenges the reader to admire its facility. And in this case, that is exactly the way to go because it is a humorous piece that doesn't take itself seriously. It's all in fun, so anything goes! Yet as with all other entries, it still has to stand up to close scrutiny. And this one does! In fact, some of the stanzas are just so brilliantly witty, they stay in the memory: 'My Edsel died/After just one block/I sold my burger joint/To Mr. Ray Kroc.' Most of the stanzas wittily proceed in a similar series of almost endless contrasts. Dualism! We're still smiling!"
Fourth Prize - $250 - Susan J. Katz
The judges said, "Interestingly, the Fourth Prize entry, the fascinating yet highly original 'The Bowpicker', commences with the line, 'The two boats tied together'. The judges were definitely not looking for any particular theme or literary device. The fact that all four major winning poems this year employ dualistic contrasts to a great extent, is purely coincidental. In this case, the poet majors on what she actually saw at the Annual Seabird Festival and what she expected to see. The joy of reading these verses does not just rely on that contrast, however, but on the unusual yet amazing subject matter which is so deftly and unobtrusively introduced into the natural flow of the poem."
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.