CONNECTICUT POETRY AWARD
In honor of CPS founders Wallace Winchell, Ben Brodine
and Joseph Brodinsky
Made possible through the generous support of
The Adolf and Virginia Dehn Foundation
Submission Period: April 1 to May 31
Open to all poets.
Prizes: 1st $400, 2nd $100, 3rd $50
Judge for the 2017 Award Dick Allen has had poems in most of the nation’s premier journals including Poetry, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Hudson Review, New Republic, Tricycle, American Scholar, Ploughshares, Margie, Plume, and New Criterion, as well as in scores of national anthologies. He has published nine poetry collections and won numerous awards including a Pushcart Prize, the Robert Frost prize, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Ingram Merrill Poetry Foundation, and The New Criterion Poetry Book Award for his collection, This Shadowy Place, published by St. Augustine’s Press in 2014. His poems have been included in six of The Best American Poetry annual volumes. His collection, Present Vanishing: Poemsreceived the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry. Allen’s poems have been featured on Poetry Daily and Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, as well as on the national website of Tricycle, where he’s been the guest poet writing on Zen Buddhism and poetry. Allen was the Connecticut State Poet Laureate from 2010-2015. His newest collection, Zen Master Poems, appeared from the noted Buddhist publishing house, Wisdom, Inc., distributed by Simon & Schuster, in Summer, 2016.
Dick Allen has had poems in most of the nation’s premier journals including Poetry, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Hudson Review, New Republic, Tricycle, American Scholar, Ploughshares, Margie, Plume, and New Criterion, as well as in scores of national anthologies. He has published nine poetry collections and won numerous awards including a Pushcart Prize, the Robert Frost prize, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Ingram Merrill Poetry Foundation, and The New Criterion Poetry Book Award for his collection, This Shadowy Place, published by St. Augustine’s Press in 2014. His poems have been included in six of The Best American Poetry annual volumes. His collection, Present Vanishing: Poemsreceived the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Poetry. Allen’s poems have been featured on Poetry Daily and Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, as well as on the national website of Tricycle, where he’s been the guest poet writing on Zen Buddhism and poetry. Allen was the Connecticut State Poet Laureate from 2010-2015. His newest collection, Zen Master Poems, appeared from the noted Buddhist publishing house, Wisdom, Inc., distributed by Simon & Schuster, in Summer, 2016.
2016 Winners of Connecticut Poetry Award Announced
2016 Connecticut Poetry Award
Judge: Dr. Joyce Ashuntantang
“Echo of Stone”
by Elaine Zimmerman
by Sharon Charde
by Kat Lehmann
About the judge: Dr. Joyce Ashuntantang is a poet and an Associate Professor of English at the University of Hartford. She was a guest poet at the VII International Poetry Festival, Granada, Nicaragua, (2011), 22 International Festival of Medellin, Colombia (2012), the First Athens World Poetry Festival, Greece (2013) and BIGSAS festival in Bayreuth, Germany (2015). A graduate of three continents, Dr. Ashuntantang received a B.A in Modern English Studies with a minor in Theater Arts from the University of Yaoundé Cameroon, a Masters in Librarianship from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and a Ph.D. in English on African Literature from the City University of New York. She is the author of many scholarly and creative publications. Her collection of poetry, A Basket of Flaming Ashes, continues to be valued locally and internationally. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and Turkish and many have been anthologized in poetry collections all over the world.
1st Place Connecticut Poetry Award 2016
Echo of Stone
for Nelba Marquez-Greene
The daughter is winging wildly
against the white orchards.
Braided hair, braided dusk.
The hills shift and fold in
ebbing light. A blue line
ribbons through memory.
The mother sobs.
Nothing but shattered urns.
Her daughter shot. Gone.
Where did we forget our wholeness?
Wanting the holes in her daughter’s fabric
to grow roots of purpose. Hair, limb, vine.
Open the skin. We sleep in dust.
Tear the pulp. Nothing is changed.
Repeat the end. An echo of stone.
Please, hold the roof down; guard
the light. Fold arms around each child
and what shoots forth from clay.
Do not ignore our small and vast despair.
Whisper of wings,
as close to us as breathing.
Each lamb returns slowly down the path.
The shepherd counts with rod of ash.
Through a dark window, the mother stares.
Twirls her son’s curls. The night
a long knife, sharp as what pierces
through dirt air sound breath.
2nd Place Connecticut Poetry Award 2016
That white slash of graffiti on golden stone from the bus down
to Via del Corso that morning––Americans, Roma will be your grave––
the words loomed so large they’re carved into me still. I didn’t
look at my son sitting next to me, attach the words to him, to us,
though he’d soon be dead. I think we were headed to see that Caravaggio
he loved––it was one of those churches so dark you put coins in a little slot
for two minutes of light––Americans, Roma will be your grave––
I wondered if it was the tourists they hated so, us with our neck-slung
cameras and credit cards, white sneakers and too-tight shorts? He tried
so hard to blend in that when the paparazzi found him by the Tiber dead
that morning they thought he was Italian, the inside of the leather jacket
he’d bought in Florence filled with blood from his fall. Was that painting
The Crowning With Thorns, The Martyrdom Of Saint Matthew,
The Fortune Teller? Caravaggio was a realist, he knew how to shift
the light to dark with little in between. No, I think it must have been
Ecce Homo we were looking at then in that dark church, later on
in the glaring brilliance of a Roman morgue.
3rd Place Connecticut Poetry Award 2016
it is my ambassador to the world
my hot, my feel, my here but not there
an inexact barrier, heat and sweat
like a muddled language seeping through
if I wore a different skin
would you still know it is me?
it is recognizable enough –
a fancy façade for the shy self within
without it, I might not realize my perimeters
or whether I am part of everything else
why do we need to be so distinct?
it must not be that important
for what skin is worn in the land of souls?
what use is a costume when the pageant is over?
I dream of pure beings in butterfly bliss
intermingling like soft flames
what was once contained in a fragile glass
will be made free as water
when we drop these worn garments
I will still know it is you
as we reach the latent truths of ourselves
and fall together, sure as gravity, shapeless as stars
Connecticut Poetry Award winners for 2017 announced
WINNER: FIRST PLACE: Brent Terry
The Torrent Is a Harbinger
--Garden Bridge, Willimantic, CT
Raining again, and between my window
and the pink Victorian across the river
hangs a curtain of concrete lace.
Through its folds the abandoned thread-
mills dissolve, reconstitute themselves
as lofts, as studios where as we speak,
painters in Nirvana T-shirts and spattered
jeans shout color at canvas, cry and hue
that until this moment existed only
as rumor, delicious as whispers trickled
tongue-to-ear from one grizzled relic
to another, rocking westward
like spicetrade troubadours conjuring
the impossibility of cardamom
from pockets of silk. The river thunders
with snowmelt, the bones of ruined works
raising a havoc of current and froth.
I want to smash something until it sings.
I want to set the choirloft alight, speak
in tongues that torch the silent tabernacle
where winter kneels, worrying its beads
and murmuring. I want to sing you back,
little brother, from the dead.
Every blossom bursts from a rupturing
and from my chest these bulbs scream
your tulips out into the innocent air.
Silver hammers pound their syllables of rain
into my skull. Who knows what riot
provokes the painter’s hand—deft thrust
into a puddle of alazzarin crimson,
spasm of some rare blue—the incendiary
stroke, the cinnamon whiff, vibrato
that throbs from brain
to brush, bristles igniting a furious bloom.
—for Scott, In Memorium, Easter 2017
“The Torrent is a Harbinger” is as strong a poem capturing the feeling of grief as I’ve ever read: “I want to smash something until it sings.” The poem’s colors are intense (“shout color at canvas”), its use of synesthesia expert, the setting and arrangement of the setting unique. This is a tactile poem when sorrow and atmosphere blend, a poem in which we are utterly, intensely here as we look across the way. It’s a rare thing to find a poem that maintains such strength and throbs so from beginning to end. With its speaker, we are compelled to feel what we would not.
WINNER: SECOND PLACE: Alycia Pirmohamed
Nights / Flatline
There were some tones of night
I could not bear,
that I could not gather in my arms
and hold onto.
Small town nights.
Cigarette nights, plumage swelling and drifting
into a grand mal sky.
Nights where I harnessed myself
to the canola fields, alfalfa leaves, elk sightings
unelegiacally, with no magnitude of loss,
no understanding of letting go.
That was fourteen years ago, and by now
the echo is half-dream
made of skimmed milk and cane sugar stars.
The other half?
Radio static, the white noise of prairies
twenty minutes outside of the city
where, for miles,
all you will ever see is that one spotted calf
walking into the sunset.
Smaller nights, smaller even
than the needle of a broken compass
flickering back and forth,
then hovering briefly as if to say--
you have reached your destination.
Or, perhaps, you are not lost.
Then pointed toward the glimpse of spruce
trees outside my bedroom window
holding close all of the stray cats underneath
as each stammer of lightning
Those are the nights that dial,
that leave a message then hang up, hang you up
under the moon,
into a storm, into solitude.
The poem has mysteries of the unexplained and mysteries embedded in its style. Tones are almost impossible to catch, but here there are “tones of night….Small town nights.” We’re in a dream state in which “one spotted calf” is “walking into the sunset.” In “Nights / Flatline” we waver between the terribly concrete and the floating abstracts. I kept returning to this most evocative poem. Many of the finest poems, like this one, keep us purposely unsure.
WINNER: THIRD PLACE: Claire Rubin
some can’t bear the weight of your sorrow
having carried too many souls soughing &
sighing under oppressive loads
some have wooden slats rotting with tears
unable to support another step
check your footing on suspension bridges
wobbling in the air, swinging side to side
worn handrails gripped by a glance at
white rapids swirling below
on covered bridges
walking through the shadows of others’
remorse, breathing the musty air of
regret that sears your lungs
if you must cross, and you must
to move from the clitter-clatter of this side
to the quiet hush of the other
How difficult is to write a poem of advice without sounding “preachy.” But “Bridges” succeeds. Is abstracts are confirmed by its central imagery of types of bridges we all use to cross between places of our lives. I’m particularly taken by “be careful / on covered bridges / walking through the shadows of others’ / remorse….” “Be careful,” the poem says, and the poem’s quiet admonitions convince me to be so.
Srinivas Mandavilli, “An End to Suffering”
Karen Torop, “ONSEN: AT A JAPANESE HOT SPRING BATH”
Bill Earls, “The December Mail Is Full of Children We Don’t Know”
2017 Poetry Contest Guidelines
CONNECTICUT POETRY AWARD
In honor of Connecticut Poetry Society founders, Wallace Winchell, Ben Brodine, and Joseph Brodinsky
Made possible through the generous support of The Adolf and Virginia Dehn Foundation
Open to all poets
Opens: April 1
Deadline: May 31
Open to all poets
Prizes: 1st – $400; 2nd – $100; 3rd – $50
Winning poems will be published in Connecticut River Review and posted on the Connecticut Poetry Society website.
Electronic Submissions Only: Use https://connecticutriverreview.submittable.com Submit up to three unpublished poems, in one document, no more than one poem per page, any form, 80-line limit for each poem.. No contact info on poems. (Contact information will be requested separately via Submittable). Simultaneous submissions are acceptable; however, please notify us immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.