WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ottava Rima Winner

Another WD Poetic Form Challenge is just around the corner. But in the meantime, here are the results of the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the ottava rima. And since there were so many excellent poems, I also selected a Top 10 list.

Read all of them here.

Here is the winning ottava rima:

Returning, by William Preston

A piece of me is always turning there,
to my old home, the place where I was born;
I’m drawn to something glowing in the air,
the same way sunshine beckons growing corn.
I feel it in each city, town, or square
where strangers make me feel a bit forlorn:
some similarity of street or face
that takes me back to where I knew my place.

I haven’t seen the house for many years
and all the neighbors now have passed away;
it seems to be a recipe for tears:
the sentiments that limn a bygone day.
But when you smile, you banish all arrears
and fears, and hold the strangeness far at bay,
and bid me learn, no matter where I roam,
that folks are folks, and they will point me home.


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Congratulations, William! The musicality of the poem, as well as the sentimental nostalgia, really sang to me.

Here’s my Top 10 list:

  1. Returning, by William Preston
  2. Time Off, by Rosemary Nissen-Wade
  3. Country Music, by Jane Shlensky
  4. The Hawk, by Maria Grace
  5. The Wedding Guest, by Tracy Davidson
  6. Do We Still Pretend the Stars Are Holes?, by JR Simmang
  7. Keeping the Seasons, by Taylor Graham
  8. Iris, by RJ Clarken
  9. Innocent Ignorance, by Tati-Williams
  10. Sometimes the Truth Hurts, by Connie Peters

Congratulations to everyone in the Top 10! And to everyone who wrote ottava rima!


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff.

He loves learning new (to him) poetic forms and trying out new poetic challenges. He is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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8 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Ottava Rima Winner

  1. PressOn

    Thank you very much, Robert, for selecting my poem. As Jane says, I’m glad to be in this company of superb poets; congratulations to all on the list, and to all who attempted this fascinating form.

  2. lsteadly

    Yes, this poem is a definite beauty. Congratulations, William, and also to all the other poets who made the top ten. I think this poetic form inspired some wonderful work from all of you.

  3. Jane Shlensky

    Robert, you picked the best poem EVER here. Bill, this one rings true for so many of us and has your trademark wisdom, kindness, and skill. I love and envy it in equal portions. Congratulations to you and all the top tenners. I’m happy to be among them, but this poem suggests to me YET AGAIN, Bill, that it’s time you put your collection of poems together for publication.


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