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New(s) & Noteworthy

Results of the tenth annual Littoral Press Poetry Prize are in! This year’s judge, Judy Halebsky, has chosen Caitlin Pryor’s poem “Best Order” as the winner. Her poem will be produced as a letterpress-printed broadside, in an edition of 50 copies. Honorable Mentions go to “Soot” by Jeff Walt, and two poems by Chelsea Jennings: “Landscape Without the Fall of Icarus” and “Tonight the Trees.” Jeff and Chelsea will choose from Littoral Press’s list of earlier broadsides as their prizes. Many thanks to the judge and the readers, and to all who entered the contest. Congratulations to the winners, whose poems are posted below. The deadline for next year’s contest will be August 15, 2018.


BEST ORDER

A teacher once told me to hold a ruler like a razor

beneath my sentences—up to the jugular—a threat

to make them stranger, to see them for the first time

again and again, so I might find the flaws

and fix. As I look at you, as I have for most of the last decade,

through the bottom of my glass, through a bedsheet

of smoke, I understand—we must make each other

strange again each day. Even as the prying stars

peer in through the Venetians, we

must blind ourselves to that starshine of sameness

so we might see—vex ourselves once more

to venture a straighter line, a sentence that stabs and is kind.

Caitlin Pryor
[This poem first appeared in Nimrod.]


SOOT

Down deep they dug, the men
of my family. Shovels & picks,
backs bent. Night on their grave
faces. Monday blues black
every bituminous day of the week.
Sex and scriptures, colliery talk.
Grubs, Smuts—Soot
of the earth.
Uncles, cousins,
stripped, mined, blasted.
Saturday, jukebox, Schlitz.
Sunday, penance, blessed. Paychecks
already spent. Into the shaft,
lung by lung, down
a song sung went.

Jeff Walt
[This poem first first appeared in the chapbook Soot, which was co-winner of the Keystone Chapbook Prize and published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2010.]


TONIGHT THE TREES

are braiding each other’s branches. Sister, sister.
I sit at the sewing table, working
the treadle of a dead machine. What about

the cold suggests an absence, distance? In winter
the bedroom’s too big, the heart’s a root,
a beet, earth-in-the-earth. Outside the window,

apples fall hard and startle the lavender.
Under a finger—phosphorous, lucifer, fire-inch-stick
summer’s as small as the head of a match.

Chelsea Jennings
[This poem first appeared in The Madison Review]


LANDSCAPE WITHOUT THE FALL OF ICARUS

Skeins of smoke in the sky
The cornfields suffer snow

Moon, barn, bird, as in
a photogram: objects

exposed as layered light
Love as a joint into which

a little blood has leaked
(scissors, a straight pin

a pair of hands) And why
not cry in the root cellar?

Loose ice in the wind, grief
freezes and falls through the air

Chelsea Jennings
[This poem first appeared in Boston Review]