Wow! So everyone brought their A-game for this chapbook challenge. Previous challenges have provided plenty of quality manuscripts, but this year was just insanely crowded with talent–some written by familiar names, others by newbies who followed quietly at home (or on their personal blogs).
At the end of the day, I really couldn’t make a bad decision.
2012 November PAD Chapbook Champion
But I did have to make a decision, and I take my decision-making process very seriously. I’m proud to introduce the 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Champion is Kelli Simpson for her Eccentricities chapbook. While this manuscript was filled with great poems, here is one I especially liked:
Just Friends, by Kelli Simpson
I have a fragment
of full moon
on a chain
and a breathless
on the small of my back –
otherwise, I’d just forget you.
I have a snippet
in my shoe
and a bottle tree
ready to bloom
between your house and mine.
It straddles the property line
where you end
and I begin –
I was also rather fond of this one:
Pinwheel Dress, by Kelli Simpson
I was a pigtailed girl
in a pinwheel dress
when Mama met a man
with thigh-high hands
There are things you don’t talk about.
When I’d balance ballet
across the cattle guard,
he’d peel me like an orange
with his eyes and suck hard
at my segments.
There are things you don’t say aloud.
And I felt so dirty
in my pinwheel dress –
with downcast eyes,
like I could outrun the mess of me.
There are things I still dream about.
I think what really caught my attention with Kelli’s manuscript is her ability to use sound very effectively while still delivering meaning. At times, her poems are almost sing-songy without getting abstract. It sounds like a simple feat, but it’s not. This manuscript is really pure poetry.
2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Runner Up
This year, I’ve selected a runner-up, who is David Yockel, Jr. for his manuscript Echolocation.
There was so much to love in David’s chapbook, including this gem of a poem:
Ode to Robert Bly, by David Yockel, Jr.
When he’s gone, words will lose a bit of their honey.
There will be one less arm reaching out to the world.
The morning will write fewer poems and our shadows
Will eat the light around our bodies. Old men in black
Coats will erupt like snow-covered fields of volcanic ash.
When he’s gone, there will be no one left to talk to donkeys.
We will be deaf to the sound of love in running water.
Late-night drives in winter will lose their meaning.
We’ll keep hanging around heaven like houseflies
Trapped by prayers and screened-in proches.
Or how about this one:
Bozo Love, by David Yockel, Jr.
I’m afraid of rubber noses.
Big red plastic shoes.
Grotesque white faces
and losing my letters from you.
I’m scared to death of roses
Greeting cards, the blues.
Picture frames and places
where trees block the better views.
I think what really drew me into his chapbook was his playfulness with form and sound paired up with a leaping sort of poetry, which isn’t too surprising to find from a poet writing an ode to Robert Bly, author of the book Leaping Poetry.
2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Honorable Mentions
The field was so crowded with greatness that it was really hard to even settle on a winner, but I did–and then, hard task number 2 was to decide on a runner up and honorable mentions. These are all wonderful chapbooks.
- Indexing: What Can Stay, by Meghan Tutolo
- Fire Ritual, by Richard Fenwick
- The Syzygy of Love, by Laurie Kolp
- Holding the Bowl of the Heart, by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
- Topography, by Melissa Cumber
Congratulations to Kelli, David, Meghan, Richard, Laurie, Elizabeth, Melissa, and everyone who participated and have new poems and chapbook manuscripts to refine! It was another excellent challenge, and I’m so thankful to be in a position to read everything.
It’s interesting to see so many unique poems that have similar titles and points of origin. It’s like seeing a familiar face that is not the familiar person. Many great manuscripts were assembled around one poetic form. Others offered a cohesive subject. Some just had several fun poems.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for participating! (And I can’t wait to see everyone in April for the 5th annual April PAD Challenge.)
Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Learn how to build an audience for your poetry in this hour-long tutorial presented by Robert Lee Brewer. During this recorded presentation, poets learn what a platform is, why it’s important, and how to develop one. They’ll also discover ways to build an audience reader-by-reader as they master the craft of writing poetry.