July 04, 2018Dear Reader,
I offer my heartfelt appreciation to all entries and our judge for another rewarding experience with the language of poetry, the essence of every tongue that speaks.
—Iris Lee Underwood
Judge: Carol Was, editor of The MacGuffin Literary journal
First Place by Diana Dinverno, Troy
Some Summer Day
the 45th parallel
to the bluffs along
Lake Michigan's shore.
Climb the trail
through maple, beech,
a few granddaddy white pines,
Pause to hear
Where forest recedes,
admire wild daisy,
Queen's Anne's lace, milkweed
tended by moths and monarchs.
When you reach the clearing,
savor its revelation—
big water laps Sleeping Bear's great dune;
Glen Lake sparkles east.
Follow the boardwalk above fragile grass,
wind-swept trees, shifting sand,
high above the lake
Into sky's startled blue.
In this vast, thin place,
earth and spirit merge;
lift your face upward,
breathe the divine.
This poem leads the reader on a magical journey through the beauty of northern Michigan. We travel above the 45th parallel to climb, pause, admire, savor, follow, lift, and ultimately breathe that beauty. The trip does not disappoint. It captures it all in specific detail and ignites our senses, from the undergrowth's heartbeat, leaved whispers, water lapping Sleeping Bear's great dune, and sparkling Glen Lake, to the movement of wind and sand. Michigan's state tree, granddaddy white pines, is also mentioned. I applaud the poet's connection to the natural world, the language used to describe it, and the poem's wonderful sense of place and spirit.
Second Place by Roberta Brown, Royal Oak
Interlochen Chamber Music Camp: When the Music Ends
Practice rooms, doors open.
Empty stands, scattered
chairs, lights off.
Forlorn pianos, lids
shuttered, fallboards closed,
artist benches stowed underneath the keys.
Stray tooth-marked pencils, bow rosin, crumpled
manuscript paper. A week old
Unreturned library music, almost
empty coffee cup, crinkled napkins.
No more sounds of music or echoing footsteps.
Judge's comments: The short phrasing and sparseness of this poem is appealing because it echoes the music camp's emptiness at summer's end. We see lights out, crinkled napkins, forlorn pianos, everything stowed, but it's the tooth-marked pencils, bow rosin, almost empty coffee cup, and no more sounds of...footsteps that shows much more than music is gone from this place. The poet captures feelings of loss and longing in a way that lets us know wonderful things happened at this camp, a jewel for the arts in Michigan.
Third Place by Lori Goff, Walled Lake
Song of Pere Marquette Forest
I choose the two-track road harboring strange
tracks in the grainy sand among scrubby bushes.
The wind gentle at my back becomes a low hum
through trunks thick with roughness and age.
I walk among a forest floor of lacy green ferns
fashioning my skirt of fronds.
Soft moss cushions bare feet and tickles my insides
with feathery caresses of laughter.
I part curtains of draped spider webs and enter
a world filled with nature's art.
Raindrops nestle on oak leaves, unseen movement
creates a forest of mini showers.
Fat acorns drop at my feet with a startling plop to wake me from quiet solitude.
Deer blow a hoarse warning of my coming and the sounds of retreating hooves drift away.
Skeleton tree limbs shout silent words as I try to read the forked signs left behind.
Judge's comments: I appreciate this praise poem because it gives an artist's view of a special forest on the western side of Michigan. The poet shows us that this is where gentle wind becomes a low hum, and we walk among lacy green ferns, soft moss cushions, curtains of draped spider webs, the sounds of dropping acorns, deer's retreating hooves, and forest mini showers. In the midst of this beauty, the poet directs our attention to skeleton tree limbs, leaving us with the forest's mystery.
Email Iris at email@example.com.