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    2012 April PAD Challenge: Poetic Asides Poet Laureate and Top 25 List

    Categories: Poetry Challenge 2012, Poetry News, Poets, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

    Yes, I know I’ve failed spectacularly to provide the results of the 2012 April PAD Challenge in a timely manner. And yes, I realize that I’ve cut the Top 50 list down to a Top 25 list (and an unordered list at that). But I have no excuse to provide–just a promise to do a better job next year.

    Okay, so who is the 2012 Poetic Asides Poet Laureate anyway?

    Well, I’ve screwed up there too, because, well, how best to say this: There are two Poets Laureate this year. They are De Jackson and Brian Slusher. They are both familiar to me, but the poems they submitted this year seemed to reach new levels of awesomeness from them.

    I’ll include a poem from each below, but you should really search their poems out from the April PAD Challenge comments. They wrote several great poems.

    Speaking of that Top 25 list…

    Yes, this year, I’ve decided to make a Top 25 list not because the quality or quantity slipped, but because I wanted to finally finish the judging. These 25 poems were selected from submissions of more than 750 poems from nearly 200 poets. If you work out the math, these poems represent the top 3% of what was submitted (and, of course, there were probably another 2,000+ poems written during the month). So making this list is a big deal (even if it is in no specific order).

    Here is the Top 25 list in no specific order:

    • Castaways, by Brian Slusher
    • Freshman Biology, by De Jackson
    • Seeds, by Joseph Harker
    • A Sparrow’s Love, by Jane Beal
    • Let’s Drive Until Our Asses Melt Into the Car Seats, by Daniel Ari
    • What You Left, by Laurie Kolp
    • Firebird, by Taylor Graham
    • At Last, by Andrew Kreider
    • Kill Your Television, by Brian Slusher
    • The Trick of Losing What You Did Not Have, by De Jackson
    • Cecily, by Marilyn Braendeholm
    • Floater, by Pamela Taylor
    • Fading, by Bruce Niedt
    • An Apple Tree and Two Finches, by Jane Beal
    • What I Look for in a Man, by Joseph Harker
    • A Shady Kyrielle, by Cristina Ortega Phillips
    • Plum Crazy, by Patricia A. Hawkenson
    • Baked Alaska, by Jane Shlensky
    • 100% Poetry, by Sara Ramsdell
    • O, Let’s Not, by De Jackson
    • The Dead Birds of America, With Life-Size Hand-Colored Illustrations, by Brian Slusher
    • Saltfish Fritters, by Maxie Steer
    • Morning Rendezvous, by Lorraine Baron Caramanna
    • Let’s Drive North, by Linda Wastila-Simoni
    • Something Wild and Wonderful, by Khara House


    Congratulations to everyone in the Top 25! And thank you to everyone who participated (and waited so patiently for me)! It still amazes me how everyone comes together to break lines every April.


    As promised, here are those poems from Brian and De:

    Castaways, by Brian Slusher

    The girls from next door
    washed ashore in my backyard
    now gather dandelions and clover
    to cook in a cracked flowerpot.

    They build a shelter from the pile
    of bricks from an abandoned project,
    carefully stack uneven walls with
    tree-branch beams and moss ceiling.

    On their island, two marooned girls
    watch for ships on the fence-horizon,
    as cloud shadows sail the grass
    and time (almost) forgets to pass.


    Freshman Biology, by De Jackson

    I remember feeling sorry
    for the slimy little suckers
    as we sliced them open,
    identifying organs: lungs,
    stomach, liver,
    scraping cell samples
    from each onto glass
    taking notes.
    Mr. G jabbering on
    kingdom, phylum,
    class, order, family, genus,
    The way your hair
    curled just right over
    your collar as your
    eyes conducted
    lab experiments
    of their own.

    moving up to
    advanced anatomy.

    with scalpel in hand
    wanting only
    to flay my own heart.


    If anyone in the Top 25 wishes to share their poem in the comments (the comments that once again work on the first try), please go for it. I look forward to sharing the November results on time and having the best April Challenge yet in a little more than 4 months from now.


    Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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    70 Responses to 2012 April PAD Challenge: Poetic Asides Poet Laureate and Top 25 List

    1. LCaramanna says:

      Anxiously awaiting April – I wanted to be sure I could log in and comment – I made time to visit the blog today. Wow! I discovered I have a poem on the Top 25 List!!! What an honor!!!
      Thank you, Robert, for providing this space to poem. Congratulations to all poets. WRITE ON!!

      April 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm
      Morning Rendezvous

      Meet me in the morning
      on the first Monday in May,
      wear your Sunday suit
      and I’ll wear that dress.

      Meet me on that morning
      at our favorite restaurant
      rain or shine, we’ll sit outside
      in the rooftop garden
      at a table amid the lilacs
      the color of my dress.

      Meet me on the first Monday in May
      early morning
      before the city awakes,
      we’ll drink a toast to the new day
      with orange juice champagne
      in rose colored glasses.

      Meet me on the first Monday in May,
      don’t be late.
      Wear your Sunday suit,
      I’ll wear that dress,
      we’ll breakfast on bagels with cream cheese
      while we plan our next rendezvous
      in the morning.

    2. Congratulations to De and Brian, and all the other amazing poets on the list! Well Done Robert !!!!!!!!

    3. Congrats to the extremely talented De and Brian. Well deserved, as are the 25 people on this list.
      Happy next year, all!

    4. Yolee says:

      Big congrats to De Jackson, Brian and the top 25!

    5. Yolee says:

      Big congrats to De Jackson, Brian and everyone who made the list.

    6. avani says:

      I am not sure on how to enter the poetry competition, so i would type it below. Please comment and suggest.

      Let me out of this prison
      social network has given enough poison
      pictures and videos full of freedom
      make me feel, my life is a kingdom
      full of kings and queens with some orders

      Protection is a slave and I need my space
      I cry! But they think its all fake
      Life is boring and deadly as hell
      that i wish to jump in a well
      full of freedom so that I can live once again

      When I express they think I am sick
      house is where they want me to stick
      they think I just wanna fly
      but let me out give it a try

      Don’t make me cry
      otherwise I’ll wanna die

      I cry, I cry but u see the protection not the distance we got or my bye bye
      but still I love u even if I swallow my tears and smile as I see you approach by

    7. elishevasmom says:

      I only first got here in October, so I missed last April. but now I can get caught up! And there were so many names in that top 25 that I recognized from our Nov PAD endeavors. Quite the inspiring company I keep. :D

    8. “A bird may love a fish—but where will they live?”
      ~ Tevia, “Fiddler on the Roof”


      A sparrow looks into the water with one eye—
      the other watches her back.

      Her name is not Narcissa. No. She sees
      her reflection but looks through it

      to the beautiful goldfish flashing
      beneath the cool, dark pond-water.

      His round eyes are amazed by her wings fluttering
      above him, free in air he can never breathe—

      glinting in the light of the sun setting behind mountains
      neither one of them can climb.

      She sings and sings to him,
      but he does not hear.

      She sees herself reflected in his eyes!
      She hops and then flies a little—insistent, hopeful.

      He leaps for a moment
      above the water, brilliant and shining

      then falls back down below.
      They never touch.

      Jane Beal
      Sunflower Songs (2012)

    9. Jane Shlensky says:

      Yay, De and Brian! So happy for you both. Here’s my listed poem. Thanks, Robert!

      Baked Alaska

      Temperate winds and
      warming seas confuse
      the whales and polar bears
      who think it is summer.

      They scan the sea for food
      as tourists, in small boats
      launched from the mother ship,
      snap pictures of themselves

      sporting winter tans
      and light jackets, glaciers
      melting behind them,
      blue ice falling, making

      waves that give all
      aboard a thrilling ride,
      only a little dangerous,
      and well worth the price.

      Tonight the chef serves
      a frothy irony for dessert,
      a tribute to global warming,
      browned meringue blanketing

      a slowly melting center
      that cannot hold
      but for a little

    10. Oh my socks!!!
      Finally, De! I am blown away and hysterically happy for you!!!!
      So well-deserved!!! <3 <3 <3

      Brian, congratulations, big time!!!
      Congrats to the top 25!!!!
      Awesome work! ^^

    11. seingraham says:

      Nicely done Robert – perfect choices for Laureates … De Jackson and Brian Slusher …bravo, kudos and congrats and a big hooray to all twenty-five who placed in the top! Well done all!

    12. dandelionwine says:

      Congratulations De and Brian! Beautiful, beautiful poems. Congratulations to all who made the list and all who poemed! Thank you again Robert for this community.

      100% Poetry
      (a tritina)

      by Sara Ramsdell

      It won’t be scratched out in a few minutes, only the bare bones
      of it will, the heap of clay from which to sculpt. You then take
      on the meaty work, subtracting a ribbed word from that line,

      adding it to this one. It takes on life somewhere along the line,
      a bit of yours, perhaps, but you’re willing to lend skin, bones,
      as it grows beneath your hand into something of a give and take–

      your soul for its heart. When it’s perfectly formed, you take
      a breath and give it up because you’ve reached the end of the line,
      and when you read it back to yourself, it resonates in your bones.

      You take the bones, line them up, give them breath, bare your soul.

    13. Lara says:

      Congratulations, De! What a happy birthday present. Congratulations to all of the other fine poets on the list as well.

    14. DanielAri says:

      Great to see the top 25 poems reprinted here for easy reference. Here’s mine (written as FangO)


      and we got so restless in Tempe, Arizona’s 90-degree midnight
      that we decided to go north. We packed sweating. Alice called
      to leave a transparent excuse for her employer; I didn’t even
      bother. We locked the apartment at 1 a.m. and started up 17
      before we could decide we were crazy. The sky started to light,
      and we kept on, grunting half-interest into the Grand Canyon.
      All day: sweating and driving, stopping to pee, eating roadside
      vittles in the car, refueling, sweating and driving. After sunset
      we crossed into Alberta as tourists, claiming to have relatives
      in Edmonton. In Calgary, we couldn’t go any farther, so we got
      the cheapest motel room we could scout and slept there until
      late next day. The air was about 72 degrees, which we agreed
      was damn near perfect, so we decided to be on vacation. Alice,
      bless her, didn’t even squeak about the money, which we both
      knew was tighter than we liked it. We were on vacation. We
      asked what there was to do, and the hotel clerk said, “Haven’t
      you been to Banff,” as if it had been obvious to her that Banff
      was why we were here in the first place. We drove there and
      got out of the car, falling flat on our backs, staring up at the
      ridges and the cool gray-green-white-blue everything. “Maybe
      we shouldn’t go back,” I said, and Alice murmured, “Mm-hmm.”

    15. A big CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! to De and Brian! And congrats to everyone on the big five-and-twenty list :)

    16. claudsy says:

      This is fantastic! Congratulations, Brian and De, worthy poets laureate. You’ve both been consistently excellent this year.

      And congratulations to all who made the top 25 list. You’re each well deserving as well and figure prominently on my personal top 25.

      Good job, Robert. You’ve done it again.

    17. De Jackson says:

      OhmyWORD. Wow.
      There are no words this morning. I admire Brian’s work, and I’m so honored to share the title with him.
      THANK YOU, Robert. And thank you all, for your generous comments and support. Six years ago I was barely writing anything but advertising copy, and lamenting journal entries. Thanks to this amazing place, I am now writing daily, have been lucky enough this past few months to have some published, and have met some of the most astounding, profoundly talented poet friends on the planet.

      Blessed, indeed.

    18. Congratulations to De and Brian, all on the list!
      Look forward to reading all of the winning poems.

    19. Misky says:

      Well done to all the Top 25′ers. Here’s my poem that made Robert’s list.


      He was a raisin of a man,
      round, plump, and wrinkled by the sun,
      with hands calloused and grooved
      from pulling in nets half emptied of fish.

      He was endlessly dedicated and in love
      with two women: the sea, and young Cecily,
      a broadly angled and solemn woman
      who kept herself to herself.

      Prudent it was, too, as it kept her blood
      from running weak as tea
      when his fever was a hurricane
      and her innocence a heralder’s beacon.

      She was dangerous, a rough craggy outcrop
      of rocks that begged every straggler
      to her bosom, and he was her empty vessel,
      tossed about too easily on the swell of her mood.

      (c) Misky (M. Braendeholm)

    20. Misky says:

      De! My girl De! And happy birthday! and Brian, too! Perfect choices, Robert!

    21. Congratulations to Brian and De! Well deserved! And congrats to the other Top 25ers!

      Here’s my poem; it’s in my book-in-progress, What the Wind Says — 40 years of search-dogs:


      I follow her into the November woods
      golden with oak leaves falling.
      Her Shepherd-nose lifts
      for scents of morning, brown eyes wide
      with watching, ears pricked-alert –
      my search partner of so many years.
      So many lost hikers, old men
      who simply walked away, young girls
      drowned. A green pool
      still holds scent of whoever passed
      yesterday, last evening.
      Ahead of me she disappears into brush
      and deadfall, searching.
      I hear her rustling among fading
      leaves as she
      disappears before me.

    22. Hannah says:

      Warmth in smiles abounds-
      well deserved recognition,
      poets so near and dear.

      Excellent picking Robert and a HUGE nod of gratitude and respect for ALL that you do!!

      De!!!!! (Doing the happy dance with you DE!!!) Brian!!!! Yes!! So excited for you both!!

      Top 25!!! Awesomeness!!!

      Congratulations to each and every one of you ALL!!

      For the named and unnamed this poetic home and endeavor is such a special thing. Kudos to everyone for writing everyday in April!!


    23. EXCITED is an understatement! Congrats to ALL on the list. Here is my Top 25 entry:

      Plum Crazy

      William Carlos Williams
      was lucky.

      He had a forgiving partner
      who was able to imagine
      the delicious, sweet
      and so cold plums
      and settle for flakes
      that probably weren’t so
      and quickly limped
      into a soggy mess.

      And even though
      his apology was so
      cleverly written that it is still
      read and reread
      long after iceboxes
      have turned into Frigidaire’s,

      I would have smacked him
      with a frozen leg of lamb.

      Forgive me,
      I am so cold.

    24. drwasy says:

      A HUGE congratulations to Brian Slusher and De Jackson. I agree–De’s poems blew me away this year. And although I was not familiar with Brian’s work from prior years, his stuff this year–wow. Both well-deserved–where your crowns well!

      Thank you Robert for hosting this event every year. April is my favorite month, my month to indulge in poeming with all the wonderful folks here.

      My poem, as written in April. Happy holidays, however you celebrate them. See you in 2013! Peace, Linda

      Let’s drive north

      past the exit ramp
      that returns us
      to the formstone
      bungalow all shady
      with pin oak and diapers
      soiled plates and
      the neighbor’s
      son dealing dope
      on the corner
      of Church and School.

      Let’s drive past
      the ramshackle five
      and dime now
      a dollar general
      and the Purina plant
      where horses burn
      to chow and glue
      and hope exits
      at the five
      o-clock whistle.

      Let’s drive north
      where air moves
      dustless, stars
      break through
      god’s detritus
      let’s drive until
      the asphalt peters
      out the sun kisses
      the ocean green
      and baptizes us.

    25. sonja j says:

      I have been WAITING to see these. Congratulations everyone, and thanks for sharing your poems again!

    26. I’m so happy for De and Brian! Congratulations to them… and the top 25, too. Thanks, Robert.

      Here’s my poem:

      What You Left
      by Laurie Kolp

      I found your old journal hanging
      in the branches of our shady oak
      where you once took refuge

      with worn pages scribbled upon
      words undecipherable
      their meanings misunderstood

      like you.

    27. Brian Slusher and De Jackson!!! So happy for you both – reading the two poems above reminded me again of how much I love your work. Well done to all who participated in this year’s challenge – and thanks to Robert for sifting through so much outstanding work. But most of all, Hail to the Laureates!

    28. OH.

      Brian, I love your work and am SO happy for you!

      But DE JACKSON?! MYYYYY De Jackson??? My all-time favorite poet of all time and beyond?? WOW, WOW, WOW!!

      Excellent Top 25 list, Robert. I hope they really do all post their winning poems here. Congratulations all!

    29. Once again, I’m proud to be in such good company. Here’s my winning poem:

      by Bruce W Niedt

      I remember the day I knew my grandmother’s
      mind was going, when she poured hot coffee
      over the tea bag in my cup.

      I remember the day my uncle went out for milk, then
      called his wife ten hours later from two hundred miles away,
      saying he didn’t know where he was.

      I remember my father-in-law, dazed in his chair,
      suddenly unable to tell me my name,
      or his own, or what day it was.

      I remember less these days too, little gaps
      and tip-of-the-tongue moments more frequent:
      where I put my glasses just a minute ago,

      the name of a favorite actor,
      whether I took my morning pills.
      When we stop remembering, do we fade away?

    30. Excellent picks, Robert, and worth the wait. Congrats, De and Brian!

    31. DanielAri says:

      Oh, yeah! De Miller Jackson! Woo!
      And Brian Slusher too!
      Wonderful laureates. I have such a smile on my face.
      And nice to be on the list, too, with one of my favorite titles ;)

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