WD Poetic Form Challenge: Somonka Winner

Publish date:

This post has been a long time coming. I posted the original challenge on October 21 with a deadline of November 10. Usually, I'd have the results earlier, but some decisions were made with the magazine that afforded me some extra time--which I'm glad to have received.

I know I say it every time, but this was an incredibly difficult challenge to narrow down. And I think I know why. Many, though not all, of the short-list poems were collaborations. So I think it shows the power of two heads vs. one that often created a more interesting tension in the poems.

Speaking of short lists, my initial short list ended up with 41 poems--and that was with me being super tough. Then, I had to run through several more rounds to slowly narrow the poems down a few at a time. Long story short (too late, I know): It was tough sledding, because the writing was so great. Thank you for that!

The winning poem was by a duo from North Carolina: Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey for their poem, "Star-gazing."

Here's the winning poem:

Star-gazing, by Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey

I wonder if you
realize that I'm in love
with your cottonseed
eyes, onyx stars dropped in cream.
How your sweet gaze distracts me!

I caught you glancing
at me, then looking away
when my eyes met yours.
What did you see there? If some
flaw, I'd gladly pluck them out.


Congratulations, Jane and Nancy!

Their poem will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer's Digest, and if I can swing it, the runner-up poem will too. It's an untitled collaboration by Rosemary Nissen-Wade and Bruce Niedt.

Untitled, by Rosemary Nissen-Wade and Bruce Niedt

A magpie warbles
at my gate.
I send you the song
across distance.

When I hear it
I will fashion clouds
to its music.
When the weather turns
they will sail to you.


Wow! Congratulations also to Rosemary and Bruce!

And to everyone on the Top 10 list:

  1. "Star-gazing," by Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey
  2. "Untitled," by Rosemary Nissen-Wade and Bruce Niedt
  3. "Happy Hour," by Cameron Steele and Walt Wojtanik
  4. "From the River," by Taylor Graham
  5. "Looking for Home," Margie Fuston
  6. "Macaroni," by Tracy Davidson
  7. "Phantom Dance," by Amy Glamos
  8. "Coffee Dates," by Linda G. Hatton
  9. "Frost at the Window," by Taylor Graham
  10. "Autumn," by Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey

Also, congratulations and thank you to every one who took part in this challenge! It was such a pleasure to read, even if it was torture to judge (because, like I said, there was so much good material).

You can bet there will be a new poetic form challenge on the way.


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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and specifically the editor of Poet's Market. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he's also the author of Solving the World's Problems. A few places he'll be reading poetry this year, include AWP, Poetry Hickory, and a just announced National Feature spot with the Austin International Poetry Festival (in April). He's married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who will be a special guest at AIPF and helps him keep track of their five little poets. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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