WD Poetic Form Challenge: Gwawdodyn Winner

No joke; this was the most difficult form challenge I’ve ever had to judge. There are several outside the top 10 that deserve to be read multiple times. Believe me, I’ve done it, and I enjoy these poems the more I read them. All I can say is that the gwawdodyn is an incredible form, and there are so many great poets who participate. What fun!

It was a challenge picking a winner, but I got there. This time around it is William Preston, who wrote several short-listed poems, for his gwawdodyn covering the battle of Gettysburg. It’s not only sonically sound, but it combines historical accuracy and specificity. Reading it over and over has been a real treat.

Gettysburg, by William Preston

In the year of eighteen sixty-three,
the great general, Robert E. Lee,
went sallying forth to fight in the North,
but his victory wasn’t to be:

for Stuart’s cavalry were no-shows;
A.P. Hill had prostatical woes;
Ewell and Early, timid and surly,
were both plagued with a case of the slows;

and Longstreet’s assault, on the second,
took longer than anyone reckoned;
and then, on the third, the charge was absurd
and thereafter, history beckoned.

So the Southern Confederacy,
after advancing north, had to flee.
Its high-water mark now sits in a park,
watched over by a statue of Lee.


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Congratulations to William for claiming the top spot, but every poem that made the top 10 (and quite a few that didn’t) is pretty outstanding.

Here’s the complete top 10 list:

  1. Gettysburg, by William Preston
  2. Goodbye, by Beverly B. Platt
  3. Meditation, by Jane Shlensky
  4. 32 Years, by Jennifer Heine-Baughman
  5. Four-Year-Old’s Adventure, by Taylor Graham
  6. The Only Thing Left Is A Book, by JR Simmang
  7. Cliches, by Tracy Davidson
  8. Welsh Holiday, by Bruce Niedt
  9. Moveable Feast, by Jeep Walters
  10. Alchemical Gardens I’ve Planted, by Helene Cardona

So congratulations to everyone who made the Top 10 list! It’s an impressive feat.

And thank you to everyone who wrote and shared their gwawdodyns. I read through every poem at least once to make a short list. Then, I go through the short list several times to whittle it down to the top 10. I had so much fun reading all these poems (read them all here).

The next challenge will be the lai. Look for a post on that sometime next week.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and ready to see what poets can do with the lai. He edits books, creates blog posts, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, edits a free weekly newsletter on publishing, and lots of other fun writing-related stuff. Voted Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere in 2010, Brewer also curates the Insta-poetry series for Virginia Quarterly Review. His debut full-length poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, was recently published by Press 53. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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20 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Gwawdodyn Winner

  1. Julieann

    What an amazing use of poetic form combined with history. You did a most marvelous job. This poem deserves many readings. It is wonderfully put and very amazing! Thank you for entering it and sharing it with us. Also, congratulations to everyone who entered their work and to the winners. All deserve an applaud and a ‘you are wonderful.’

  2. Marie Elena

    What a list of talent presented here. Wow.

    Bill, it’s great to see you getting the recognition you deserve!

    Jeep, I like seeing a relative newcomer also getting recognized for the major talent you’ve already presented.

  3. PressOn

    Thanks, all of you, for the kind words. Congratulations to everybody else on the top-ten list. I remember those poems, and feel fortunate to be on the list, anywhere. Thank you, Robert, for the challenge and for selecting my poem. The gwawdodyn is indeed an incredible form, and plain old fun to play with.


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