I do know that Dennis was this year's recipient of the Rip Van Winkle poetry prize . The ceremony, usually in April, was postponed until September because one of the organizers got run over on his bicycle (according to Dennis). Perhaps we could make a jaunt to Greenville for the readings. Dennis sent me his winning poem, which I will include here. This is a nice contest which is sponsored every March by All Arts Matter in Greenville. Mike and Ally have also won and there are cash prizes.
We had twelve at the meeting, all good poems, some outstanding. Mimi got nominated (by Tom, I think) for the Refrigerator Prize - the poem you take home and magnetize to your refrigerator; this one about a girl struggling with the frustrations of her eleven-year old life and future.
Dan has been making good progress with his evolution into a non-rhyming poet; this was his portrayal of genius. Someone said the form worked well and suggested dividing it into two sections.
Someone commented on Stacey's "great voice" in the 1st and 2nd in a series of Poems Verite, which everyone seemed to like. How could we not; it was about a library. Bo wrote about experiencing (or not) another person's grief. Edie proclaimed herself "a very bad girl" with a childhood anecdote.
Alan remarked that Ally "put the reader into the poem" which she did indeed, with a diatribe about the heat and humidity. Paul wrote an Epilogue with a knockout punch for the end line..."where a chapter of a good story ended."
Alan gave us a rewrite of the story about Li with The Iron Crutch (printed on lovely paper). He also put out a broadside by our old friend William Robert Foltin, adorned with one of Alan's own graphics.
Tim's unusually formatted work, an experiment with space on the page, inspired conversation. It was a bloody visit to the site of a motorcycle accident and was very strong, like "a kinescope of images flashed on a screen". Good one. Don't forget, Tim, you meant "mourning" not "morning."
Dennis wrote a hymn of sorts about choices, with some great repetition. I found it thought-provoking and especially liked "Pick a mind, any mind, I wore it like a woolen coat".
I was also enthused, as were we all, I think, about Tom eating "Big Macs at Mickey D's" and all the stuff he did "After", and after, and after. Well worth a re-read.
I got nostalgic chuckles with my "Ketchup, Catsup..." etc., a childhood memory of sneaking downstairs to watch Saturday TV while I was supposed to be taking a nap.
I wrote myself some notes during the meeting which include "theological whatever", "escape from desire", Darfur and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wau. I have no idea what I meant.
Here is DS's winning poem:
(For l. t. and l. m)
tonight the coldest night of winter,
i see the bearded ghost of my old teacher,
lonely old courage seer, and weep for joy.
how wonderful i think, me worthy of a visit
from the other side. did charon pole him here?
will he get back? he looks so young still.
i see some friends heading over there, ambushed
by day, without the courtesy of a fighter’s count,
black-jacked on the brain as if by a robber,
the course of nature’s clock shattered, yes, friends
passing without a strand of white, unwrinkled frame,
targeted like the wanted at the post office.
shall i repeat my ancient of days’ mantra?
all is suffering, each pain a tiny death to ease our way,
become transparent, lay down your life per diem.
small consolation i know, i’m not sailing away
safe on the shore, waving goodbye like it’s a holiday.
how do we remember anybody anyway? in details?
did they give their feet to a shoeless man?
cook spaghetti for the corps no rest in sight? sit
in jail with a stranger: what can i do for you?
memory does not carry well abstractions, more so
the wet kisses my wife threw me days ago or
the cold january wind worked up in front of the house,
friends passing by in beat-up tubs honking for peace.
the heart is a basket in which we carry all our selves
in holy images, beset with neon electric emotional sighs.
my holy guru’s come tonight with a learnèd tongue,
transmissions of compassion, sutras of long-suffering,
re-charged visions of utopia, commonweal beliefs.
i shall start a new life, you my friends will be its chairs,
you who prepare to leave us grayless. i shall be your
candle in the night, a flicker the wind will not shear.
the tribe is life, all memory resides in the tribe, the font
of commonweal, the guarantee of who remembers.
after you’re gone my heart will carry you beyond forever.
January 21, 2008