The judge for the ninth annual Littoral Press Poetry Prize, Troy Jollimore, has announced this year’s winners:
Carol Ciavonne won the contest with her poem “The Bird Life.” I will be designing and producing a broadside of the poem in an edition of 50 copies.
Honorable Mentions go to Ms. Ciavonne for her poem “Two Kinds of Blue”; to Suzanne Maxson for “Movement”; and to Jeanine Stevens for “Frida in a White Dress.” These honorees received their choice of a broadside produced at Littoral Press.
The four winning poems are posted below.
Many thanks to all who entered this year. It is always a pleasure to see so much fine writing submitted to the contest.
The Bird Life
You want to know how narrow,
where the ocean is hidden
over the rise, beyond
residential where the gulls live
the bird life. Hovers. Cream.
Going against his wishes. She’s
glad he’s knowable. Not to visualize
the body missing or not whole,
that body she loved.
Not allowed to comment on memories,
believing doesn’t change desire.
Yaw, pitch and roll.
In handing down, the handing,
brown hands, smell of soil
a clean smell. Only the colander
pricked out in little stars,
such a tiny moon.
Two Kinds of Blue
The bay was two kinds of blue farther,
the range between articulation and silence
the delicacy I long for
what goes over the water
and under the water
a woman crossing a bridge
an accent of yellow or red a leaf
or a scarf
deep where music is.
The Swedish soprano’s heretical secret:
in order to sing you must open your throat,
in petition and blending.
Helen Keller came to the studio
of Martha Graham. She felt the dancing
through the floor. But then a question:
What is jumping? I don’t understand
So Martha Graham led her to the barre
and said to the dancer Merce Cunningham
Merce, be very careful. I’m putting Helen’s hands
on your body, and she did, Helen’s hands
on his waist, at the barre, and he jumped—
in the studio no one moved, attending.
her hands, he said, like bird wings, so soft
and he jumped, rose up and her hands
rose up with his body, again again again again
and he felt her fingers moving as though fluttering
and when he stopped oh
she said oh how wonderful! how like thought!
how like the mind it is!
the choreographer, the dancer
and Keller at seventy-two the dance itself.
and how like the mind to leap
to John Cage, the music. and to that love
awakening silently, suddenly, as it does.
from Craig Brown—Hello Goodbye Hello, via Maria Popova
Frida in a White Dress
~ a black and white photo
More beautiful than self portraits
with monkeys and snakes,
in pristine lace, like a
communion dress, you are all
purity and grace.
The cigarette, casually
caught in your left hand,
the tip rosy, glowing,
seems to mock the girlish
eyelet, the puffy sleeves.
Overlarge beads mask
the gorget at your throat,
reminiscent of the spiraling sun,
iridescent, like the patch of armor
on the neck of a hummingbird.
You flick grey ash
into the three-legged bowl,
a replica of ancient sacrificial
lamps, the kind now used for salsa.
Dark palms blur
against the stucco wall—
as they must
from cradling so much light.