WD Poetic Form Challenge: Byr a Thoddaid Winner

Here are the results of the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the Welsh 4-line poetic form, byr a thoddaid. As usual, many poems made the original cut before I was able to get it down to a Top 10 list and eventual winner.

Read all the byr a thoddaid poems here.

Here is the winner:

This Is Heaven, by James Von Hendy

The man we love most in the world
is dying. He sits, fingers curled
around the covers of an open book
to mark his place, and though

he nods asleep, each time he wakes
he reads with wonder what he takes
to be words he’s not read before. Tonight
dim light pools on the floor

about his bare and swollen feet,
taut skin pale as a winding sheet.
He says there’s nothing after death, so this
is heaven’s realm, the breath-

less living room, its curtains drawn
against the night. “We’re here, we’re gone.”
He shrugs, and smiles at us, son and wife.
“This life’s a benison.

“No other heaven can compare.”
It’s true we’d rather not despair.
These long evenings, spanning years, are blessed,
and best, it staves our tears.


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Congratulations, James!

Here’s a complete look at my Top 10 list:

  1. This Is Heaven, by James Von Hendy
  2. Beware the Swallow Parade, by William Preston
  3. Artisanal Salt, by RJ Clarken
  4. Panning for Gold, by Taylor Graham
  5. The Gift of Age, by Nancy Posey
  6. Sun and Shadow, by Joslyn Chase
  7. Remembering Us, by Lisa L. Stead
  8. The Backyard, by Daniel Paicopulas
  9. Night in the Forest, by Sara McNulty
  10. Sunset, by Jane Shlensky

Congratulations to everyone in the Top 10! And to everyone who wrote a byr a thoddaid!

Participate in the haiku sonnet challenge through September 30. Click to continue.


roberttwitterimageRobert 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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13 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Byr a Thoddaid Winner

  1. lsteadly

    Congratulations, James! What an amazing piece- it swept me up from the start when I first read it and continues to do so with each re-reading. Nicely done. Congrats also to all the other winners and poets. I am always so impressed by the diversity expressed here. And thank you, Robert!!!

  2. James Von Hendy

    Woke up Saturday morning to Facebook congratulations from RJ, a lovely way to start the day! Congratulations to all the top 10 winners, all of whose poems were wonderful. And, as Robert says, congratulations to everyone who wrote a Byr a Thoddaid or three. I have to say I found this form particularly challenging. It brought out my determination. Keep those challenges coming, Robert! Thank you!


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