Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest 2011
Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest!
First Prize $3,000
Carmine Dandrea, A Wake in the House
Second Prize $1,000
George Korolog, From Tending Sheep to Confusion on the Amtrak 10:50
Third Prize $450
Martin Steele, Almost Light
Fourth Prize $250
Gordon Preston, Camp Four Jeffrey, Inyo County, CA
Most Highly Commended $150
- Barbara Carpenter, Vibrations
- Louis Giron, To Misunderstand Mariachi Music
- Carlos Andres Gomez, Gifted
- Johnmichael Simon, Playstation Universe
- Marie Delgado Travis, Friends
- Vernon Waring, juror number twelve
First Prize - $3,000 - Carmine Dandrea
"A Wake in the House"
Contest judges John H. Reid and Dee C. Konrad said, "This cleverly titled entry could be described as a 'coming of age' poem, in which the young narrator seems at first amazed at the strong reactions of relatives and friends at an Italian wake, until it finally dawns upon his not-yet-mature understanding as to exactly what the wake is really all about. All the details gradually accumulate in his mind until he suddenly wakes up to the reality of death. What could have been a prosaic account in the hands of a less skilful poet, is given life and poetic purpose by Carmine Dandrea by focusing on all the amazing—at least to non-Italians—details of the wake, one by one: The screams, the shouts, the cries that 'welcome' every visitor; the refreshments; the wine; the games. The whole panoply of a typical Italian wake is not only brought into sharp focus by the poet, but leavened by the gradual dawn of his knowledge and understanding of death that suddenly becomes plain, real—and startling!"
Second Prize - $1,000 - George Korolog
"From Tending Sheep to Confusion on the Amtrak 10:50"
The judges said, "While the previous winner focused on an area in America (presumably in New York) that became a little Italy, in 'From Tending Sheep to Confusion on the Amtrak 10:50' George Korolog focuses on a region on the other side of the Continent, where the traditions were Greek. In this cleverly constructed poem, Korolog presents both an apocryphal yet legendary reminiscence, which leads into a present-day misadventure. Tradition plays a part in the opening story which tells of the mystical death of a 94-year-old shepherd who possessed 'a stained sliver of wood', allegedly from the cross of Golgotha. From legend to reality, we are then adroitly introduced to the narrator's 89-year-old Uncle Louie, who, despite his love of feta and olives, seems lost in his mystical adventures with the Argonauts. It is a lively present-day encounter that the poet embellishes with enough fascinating details so that it strikes the reader as both true and poignant."
Third Prize - $450 - Martin Steele
The judges said, "In 'Almost Light', Martin Steele has constructed a remarkably descriptive poem with images that are strikingly imaginative yet possess more than a breath of reality. The scene is a deserted railroad track. One early morning, a dancer, whose house overlooks this deserted stretch of track, notices a young lady, walking along the sleepers. He turns on his gramophone. The music is loud and follows him as he follows the woman along the track. He catches up to her and they dance together. It's an imaginative scene, beautifuly described. True, it could be a scene taken straight out of an old-fashioned Hollywood musical, but Steele gives it not only reality and authority, but a mystical quality that is both catching and engaging."
Fourth Prize - $250 - Gordon Preston
"Camp Four Jeffrey, Inyo County, CA"
The judges said, "'Mountaineering' is an unusual subject for a poem. Gordon Preston not only handles the technical and physical details with a brilliant economy of style, but allied with a fine sense of imagery ('the silent theatre of moonlight was there'), he gives the reader more than a glimpse of his personal philosophy. Among the attractive features he describes are 'the daily plan...to stay alive until the sunrise turns down the slow cast of shadow' when 'stars carved out of darkness melt into the wild snow pack running off.' Yet the poet is also well aware of the practical details when 'morning firewood smoke washes into this room, and the camp host collects overdue hunting fees.' All told, a most invigorating poem in which the writer is nor afraid to experiment with sentence structure and other innovative techniques."
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.