My goal is always to get one poem-a-day challenge wrapped up before the next one begins: So get November wrapped up before April and April before November, but...sometimes (okay, normally) it just doesn't work out that way. That said, I'm a month ahead of when I wrapped things up last year. So that's progress, right?
Once again, nearly 100 chapbook manuscripts were entered, and I loved reading them all. And once again, the quality of entries made it very difficult to get down to the top 10, let alone pick a winner. It required several rounds of reading through the manuscripts.
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This year's winning manuscript is Shapeshifting, by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider.
Here are a few poems from Shapeshifting:
“Preface,” by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
To write a poem is to shapeshift,
to become Spider, who anchors her line
upon a slender twig high in the sycamore,
then casts herself forth upon air
to float earthward, supported only
by the capricious breeze and the line
of her own making, trusting to its strength,
convinced that her web will travel
from Point A to Point B
in the most practical line possible.
“Beauty Was There,” by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
In the beginning, she hovered there,
above the waters, molding the land,
holding the world in her hands,
crafting a world of fire, earth, water, air.
In the beginning, she brooded,
her face obscured by shadows,
her thoughts filling the hollows,
her watchful eyes hooded.
She sent her dreaming forth,
streaming through the cosmos,
building like song to a crescendo,
filling newborn skies with morning.
In the beginning, she listened
for colors that flew in the wind,
for singing that blew though her mind,
for waves of color and sound risen
from deep within her breast.
Her thoughts became matter, feeling
mattered, materialized into being,
unbeing fled as her moon rose in the west.
And today we un-matter her being,
de-materialize the thoughts she formed,
de-stabilize the dances she performed
to set it all in motion. We've set it reeling,
ripping the fabric she wove.
It cannot be too late to change our ways,
to seek again the rhythm of her days,
to turn to her again and call her Love.
“Day of Reckoning,” by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
This is the day we reckon with the lies of the old men.
This is the day we see how the truth is uncovered.
This is the day we watch the old kings crumble
beneath the load of their own falsehoods.
This is the day we open the golden doors of the cages
where blind old men lock their little dolls
safe from the ravages of others,
tucked safely in the story for themselves.
This is the day we stand up and say,
Our bodies are not your tools.
This is the day we welcome the Queen
from the mists where She has been hidden.
This is the day the Lady steps out of the mists
and beckons you through the doorway.
This is the day we reckon with the women.
Sisters, God is not a withered old man
who will rock you in a box until he is ready
to use you for his own purposes.
God is an Aunty who will teach you
how to unlock the cage of your throat.
She is a Grandmother who will dress you
in your fierce and glorious clothing.
She is a Mother who will open your doors,
and throw wide your windows.
She is a Sister who will listen to your questions,
and teach you how to fight.
“The Purpose of Poetry,” by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
When you are finished reading,
this poem will self-destruct,
the words fly outward,
shards of ideas exploding,
lacerating thickened skin,
feelings and notions piercing the soul,
shredding elevated egos
and mangling worn-out theories.
You will not be able to escape
into the house of another poem,
for all poetry is designed to explode,
to shatter into a thousand colors,
like the fracturing of light.
Again, congratulations, Elizabeth!
But wait! There’s more!
More than 20 chapbook manuscripts made it past the first cut, and then, it took a lot of reading and re-reading to land on a winner and top 10. Every one of these chapbooks contained multiple poems that I wish I had written.
- Shapeshifting, by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider
- We Hold Our Burdens Close, by Steve Brightman
- it comes down to this, by De Jackson
- Finding My Place, by Taylor Graham
- Pine Trees as Compass Points, by Barb Peters
- Paddle in Your Wake, by Sarah Cooper
- Rain and Regret, by Robin Amelia Morris
- Wantastiquet, by B. Morrison
- This Poem's in Love, by Candace Kubinec
- Of Snow and Fireflies, by C.B. Wentworth
Congratulations to all the finalists! And to everyone who entered, wrote poems, and assembled chapbooks!
And remember: the 2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge is only a few weeks away!
Robert 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). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.