Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 2013
Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest!
First Prize $2,000 Poetry
S.E. Ingraham, Table for Three
First Prize $2,000 Traditional Verse
Lois Elaine Heckman, Samsara Turntable
Second Prize $500 Poetry
Caitlin Doyle, Thirteen
Second Prize $500 Traditional Verse
Jacie Ragan, Strands of Time
Honorable Mention $100
- Ginny Lowe Connors, Living Room, Poetry
- Paul McMahon, The Boghole, Poetry
- Meryl Natchez, Marai Sandor in San Diego, Traditional Verse
- Sarah Rice, I Am Shadow, Poetry
- Johnmichael Simon, Dolly, Poetry
- Celia Stuart-Powles, The Potato Eaters, Poetry
- Vanni Thach, In the Rice Field Where Leeches Lurk, Poetry
- Jeff Walt, Bus Ride, Poetry
Judge Ellaraine Lockie comments on the winning entries
In judging this competition, I feel I've witnessed the full gamut of human experience as well as the truly healing effect that poetry has on people who choose to express themselves through it. I found I really cared about the poets and often talked to them as I read their poems. There are so many ways for a poem to be excellent, which made cuts near painful.
All eleven of the winning poems were of course in that "excellent" category. In addition, they had a haunting effect, meaning that I thought about them when I should have been sleeping. And they passed the "longevity test" in that with each repeat reading, these poems grew into more meaningful, compelling and musical pieces of writing. Here are some specific comments on the top poems.
"Table for Three" by S.E. Ingraham
Tom Howard Prize for verse in any style
The breathtaking beauty of language in this poem juxtaposed with the dense gravity of subject matter leaves me stricken simultaneously with sorrow and awe. I have a keen appreciation for the power of the words, both Neruda's and this poet's, and for the ingenious interplay between the two. The last stanza, with its suggestion of eternal life, allows us to exit the poem without despairing. But I invite you to enter again and read this poem out loud to experience its spellbinding lyrical quality.
"Thirteen" by Caitlin Doyle
Runner-Up, Tom Howard Prize
The originality and complexity of this piece stunned me from the first reading in its poetic take on the number thirteen and its use of facts, history, superstition, numerology, nature, and the Bible. But the story of a girl's tumultuous onset of puberty that is expertly woven throughout these references is what coaxed re-reads. We all know this girl, either because we've been her, been her parent, grew up with her or went to school with her. The poem's clincher as prizewinner came when I read it out loud and became acutely aware of the well-placed internal rhyme and subsequent rhythm. Do read this one out loud too.
"Samsara Turntable" by Lois Elaine Heckman
Margaret Reid Prize for verse that rhymes or has a traditional style
This exquisite marriage of form and content uses the challenging crown of sonnets, or sonnet corona, to address the universal theme of aging through a multi-generational ping-pong match of words, people and points of view. I am greatly moved by the content, the usage of rhyme that draws no attention to itself and by each required line repetition that shifts context to always move the poem forward. A tour de force!
"Strands of Time" by Jacie Ragan
Runner-Up, Margaret Reid Prize
In this highly metaphoric sonnet sequence, the poet masterfully links the fragility/durability of the natural world with human lives that last from one generation to another through the weaving of fabric and then memories. I found a deep, almost religious sense of unity and comfort in reading this, a poem that initially drew me in through its precise wordplay and natural language within the confines of form. Here's another stirring read-out-loud experience.
Over 1,600 poets competed in this contest.
Ellaraine Lockie is the outgoing judge of the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest. Ms. Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books, and essays. Her eleventh poetry collection, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest and was published in early 2015. Other recent work has been awarded the 2013 Women's National Book Association's Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David's Leg, winner of the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest for Red for the Funeral, and The Aurorean's Chapbook Spring Pick for Wild as in Familiar. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.