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2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Results

I think this is the latest it's taken me to name a November PAD Chapbook Challenge Champion, but that just speaks to level of competition (and maybe a little to my hectic schedule). :)

However, there's no denying that I found this year's crop of chapbook manuscripts the best ever. It was quite a challenge for me to just narrow down the field to a short list of contenders. Out of around 100 chapbook manuscripts, I did finally choose eight finalists.

The 2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Finalists (in no particular order):

  • Moments of Silence, by Larry Lawrence
  • Surfacing, by Joseph Harker
  • Chapbook, by Toni Giarnese
  • Gathering of Dogs and Men, by Sara Ramsdell
  • Listless, by Maxie Steer
  • Goose Island Under a Mackerel Sky, by Martha Modena Vertreace-Doody
  • Doll House, by Marissa Coon Rose
  • Transformations, by Taylor Graham

Congratulations to the finalists! It's quite an accomplishment. But then again, everyone who entered should be congratulated for completing the challenge and sending in a chapbook manuscript. I know first hand that it's no easy task.

<drum roll>

The 2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Winner is...

...Sara Ramsdell for her collection Gathering of Dogs and Men.

One thing I love about the chapbook is that Ramsdell never seems to overstay her welcome in each poem. The poems get to the heart, find the message, deliver the message, and get out. Interestingly, Sara's own words upon learning that she won seem to confirm my reading.

Here's what Sara had to say of her collection: "This collection of poems was written during a month of transition in my life as my husband and I experienced the uncertainties of selling a first home and buying a second. Throughout the process, writing a poem a day became a grounding practice for me, and common themes of relationship, home, environment, and trust naturally wound themselves among the lines.

"Some poems were written from our old house, some from my grandparents' farmhouse on the land where I grew up (where we stayed in the interim), and a couple from our new home. Changing locations, reuniting with family and old haunts, as well as feeling our lives shifting in a new direction seemed to uproot emotions that may otherwise have been buried too deep for poetry while lending an urgency to the writing that I haven't experienced at any other time."

Here are a few poems from the collection:


"Our homes are on our backs and don't forget it." - Molly Peacock

We only live as far as we reach
in this world. In the end, we soar
above the structures that once
held us, remembering the moment
before we were born. We let go
to find the weight we've wielded,
our own invention, our own undoing.
What is home, after all, but the place that
watches us fly away and then return?

October Storm

An eerie snap carries through the bedroom window,
and we know it's come undone. Beneath the maple,
heavy midnight snow cascades down from the muted
sky and from your pushing. It's not time yet for raking,
not even for ghosts, and snow remembers every clinging
leaf. Sheer surface area magnifies the inescapable
burden. Our big hearts break with tender limbs.


Tethered by phone, trapped by email
and the bank and the real estate agents
behind them, we watch the fox lope
across the upper field, unfettered.
The dark desperation in the coyotes'
whining strains echoes our own
helplessness. It's always been this way.
We're caught in a trap, while they roam
freely outside the houses we inhabit.


The end of the road always feels
like the beginning, where the dirt
reaches the pavement: possibility,
someone driving by. This morning,
standing morning mist, low hanging
fog, still view out over quiet mountains,
listing grateful and breathing deep, I
hear the truck coming. I hear the truck
pass. Natural for brake lights on a hill,
but still, my heart skips a beat.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer and my personal blog, My Name Is Not Bob.


2012 Poet's Market cover

Get your poetry published...

...with the help of the 2012 Poet's Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This publishing reference includes hundreds of publishing opportunities, articles on the craft and business of poetry, and access to the poetry slice of information on

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