Nearly 2,300 poems were submitted in the seventh annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards, and Linda Neal Rising’s “An Educated Woman Explains Why She Likes Bluegrass” claimed the No. 1 spot. Her prize: $500, a copy of the 2012 Poet’s Market and a trip to the WD Conference in New York City.
“I fell for Rising’s poem from the opening lines,” says final-round judge Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Poet’s Market and WD’s Poetic Asides column (Page 11) and blog. “Whether through the repetition of because to open every stanza or using perfect metaphors to describe the individual elements of a bluegrass tune, this poem takes a familiar topic and plays with it—making the whole enterprise more beautiful in the process.”
The contest was open to original poems of any style that were unpublished and 32 lines or fewer. The top 50 poems will be printed in a special collection, available here for $11.95. To find out how to enter next year’s contest, visit Writer's Digest Competitions.
“An Educated Woman Explains Why She Likes Bluegrass”
by Linda Neal Rising
Because a fiddle can cry honey
or shapeshift into the Wabash Cannonball,
chugging its arrival
or whistling through a crossing
in some by-passed Ozark town.
Because a banjo plunks
like hail on a tin roof,
covering a barn with weathered sides.
Or like drops, fat and dull,
plopping into a zinc bucket, set below
the eaves to catch rain water.
Because a guitar can speak
with a country accent,
hum about mockingbirds and murders,
long for girls with names
like Sally Goodin, Liza Jane, Sweet Fern.
Because a mandolin quivers,
a timid soul, fluttering
like the wings of a blackbird
trapped inside a stone chimney.
Because the voices lift so high
and lonesome they drift,
suspended like Blue Ridge fog
just before fading to sun.
The Top 10
1. “An Educated Woman Explains Why She Likes
Bluegrass” by Linda Neal Rising
2. “Last Chair” by Maggie Morely
3. “A Holding Time” by Barbra Simpson
4. “Hands Together” by Ace (A. Charles) Baker
5. “Listening to the Ocean” by Kathleen Olive Palmer
6.“34” by Jack Libert
7. “This is how you ready for it” by Roberta
8. “Prayer for Mother” by Carol Despeaux
9. “Cracked” by Chris Warner
10. “Grah Nade!” by John J. Zerr