WD Poetic Form Challenge: Terzanelle Winner

Thank you to everyone who submitted a terzanelle! This form was a fun read and tricky to decide upon a winner.

My initial short list included 30 poems, but I cut it down to one winner and 10 finalists. This time around, that winner is Jane Shlensky for her poem “Food Chain,” which won me over with its images, its lyricism, and the thought of connection and observation.

Here’s the winning Terzanelle:

Food Chain, by Jane Shlensky

An ibis settles on the shoal–
white plumes in shallows, standing still
until the fish forget his goal

to make of them his morning meal.
He’s in the moment, focused, clear,
white plumes in shallows, standing still.

He does not see me watching, near;
he stares beneath blue mirrored sky.
He’s in the moment, focused, clear,

reflected in the water’s eye
where languid fish seek smaller prey.
He stares beneath blue mirrored sky,

then strikes and pulls a fish away,
joining a chain that holds us all
where languid fish seek smaller prey,

in answer to a primal call.
An ibis settles on the shoal
joining a chain that holds us all,
until the fish forget his goal.


Win $1,000 for Your Poetry!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25.

The extended deadline is November 21, so enter today.

Click here to learn more.


Here is the Top 10 list:

  1. “Food Chain,” by Jane Shlensky
  2. “Before the Fire Burns,” by Susan Schoeffield
  3. “Motel, You in the Window,” by Barbara E. Young
  4. “Enchanted Exile,” by Daniel Ari
  5. “Under the Milky Way,” by William Preston
  6. “Untitled,” by Joshua
  7. “Ringside,” by Taylor Graham
  8. “Repaired,” by Bruce Niedt
  9. “Fractured,” by Tracy Davidson
  10. “Calling Orion,” by Laurie Kolp

Congratulations to Jane and everyone in the Top 10! And thank you to everyone who took the time to participate and comment on each others’ poems.

I’ve been working through the gogyohkas and hope to announce the winners of that challenge soon. In the meantime, watch for the next poetic form and poetic form challenge.

Also, be sure to read through the 200+ comments from the terzanelle challenge. Click to continue.


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He loves hosting, reading, and judging these challenges.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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15 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Terzanelle Winner

  1. Jane Shlensky

    Wow! That top ten list is fantastic. I’m so grateful to be among them. Thanks, Robert. And thanks to all my friends here for such kind comments. You folks rock!

  2. DanielAri

    Congrats, Jane – and everyone! This is a challenging form. I really like it! I prefer it to villanelle for the cyclical aspect, one you catch really perfectly, Jane.

  3. Hannah

    Awesome work, Jane…I agree with William…your poem really does bring an immediate in the moment feeling, congratulations!

    Great work to this excellent list of poets as well…BIG kudos to all!


  4. sjmcken

    Jane…my first terzanelle …. and it is now an aspiration just to put one together… let alone have be as lyrical and coherent as Food Chain. Lovely, even in and among and around a complex structure!


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