2019 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Results

Announcing the winning manuscript and author of the 2019 November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge! Plus, five honorable mentions are, well, mentioned.
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2020 has been a strange year (and oddly, we're not even officially to the half-way point yet), but it's nice in at least one respect: I'm able to announce the 2019 November PAD Chapbook Challenge results this year. Since that was not the case last year, I consider that alone a win this year.

But thankfully, there's more good news. The manuscripts were once again excellent, which made them fun to read but also difficult to judge. In the end, there were around 80 entries, which I've narrowed down to a winner and five honorable mentions.

*****

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*****

This year's winning manuscript is Safe among the Roses, by J. Lynn Sheridan.

(Why I Write Poetry: J. Lynn Sheridan.)

Congratulations, J. Lynn!

J. Lynn Sheridan

J. Lynn Sheridan

Here are a few poems from Safe among the Roses:

“Moonlight,” by J. Lynn Sheridan

Flipping through our storied pages,
reading between the bare lines (or lies),

counting tears by years, blaming
nature and nurture instead of idling

sympathy or interest in enmeshing
our cerebral or lingual palettes,

we surrounded ourselves with me-self
and you-self and weaved an emblem of
how to moonlight mano a mano.

You coated in industrial dust,
me steeped in puke and diapers

smelling like peat and gruel
seated in our respective corners
coveting greener grass and redder roses

until this storied forest-for-the-trees
banquet transformed year by year
into something entirely perfect.

“Once Upon a Time,” by J. Lynn Sheridan

A man smiled
indulgently
like an overdramatic
overstuffed hurricane
and crushed the diamonds
sparkling in her eyes.

“Our Counting House,” by J. Lynn Sheridan

You (the alpha bean counter) scratching your stubborn chin stubble, elbow resting on a milk blot on the kitchen table, head lowered, shoulders hunched.

Me (the neophyte) lining our copper beans along a dilapidated knotted beer paddle.

Dry mouth. Ciphering. Tallying.

Snow gently fluttering outside the pale window. Work boots hibernating in the mud room. A kiss tossed across the table.

Love is surviving the harvest moon without falling to earth.

“To Know Safety Until the End,” by J. Lynn Sheridan

Her empty stare where once loomed flirty lashes and pouty red lips,
frozen hands now crimped from quilting needles and oven mitts,
gray hair pulled in a bun, limbs without want or reason. She is the child
her children now parent.

The therapist, bristly tall, shirttail curled up revealing a torn pocket
says God is good but this aging stuff . . . his hand goes to my mother's
crimson cheek as he trails off then says his grandfather, running from
the Nazis and Stalin, dug pits in the forest and lowered his animals
inside, hidden in safety, surviving united, until the wrinkled end.

A concentrated focus on silence. You. Me. Reflecting:

Your grandfather, born in a Gaelic hut, packed sheep in the children's loft.
My grandfather, born in a Nebraska soddy, violets peaking through the snow,
dodged snakes and cows falling through the mud ceiling,

dirt. roots. roses. liberty. life.

The indigo sky beckons us on the drive home. You point with a weathered hand
and say in realistic sarcasm, "Soon you'll smell roses."

In the distance, a putrid mountain rises along the river and miles upon open miles of musky trash breeds with no end.

And yet here we are in the moonlight. Together.

Safe among the roses.

*****

Again, congratulations, J. Lynn! If you'd like to learn more about her, check out her website at jlynnsheridan.com or follow her on Twitter @JlynnSheridan.

But wait! There’s more!

More than 15 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 five honorable mentions. Every one of these chapbooks contained multiple poems that I wish I had written.

  1. Safe among the Roses, by J. Lynn Sheridan
  2. Scribbling Storms, by De Jackson
  3. The Way the Story Goes, by Jane Shlensky
  4. Fire Weather, by Taylor Graham
  5. Her Father's Jacket, the Birder's Coat, and Other Biographies, by Barb Peters
  6. Flyways, by William Preston

Congratulations to all the finalists! And to everyone who entered, wrote poems, and assembled chapbooks!

And remember: the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge is only a few months away!

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