I’m thrilled to announce the winners of the Word Craft Poetry Syllabic Poetry Contest held to honor the Summer Solstice. The theme was dreams, and the syllabic form to write was tanka prose. Many thanks to all the poets who entered this contest. Thanks for being part of our poetry community.
Last year, JulesPaige and I sponsored the first Word Weaving Poetry Journal. As promised, the royalties from the sale of the journal from 2021 went toward three prizes of $35.00 for 1st place, $25.00 for 2nd place, and $15.00 for third place paid in U.S. funds through PayPal. There was also one honorable mention the judges felt warranted recognition.
These winners will receive a blog widget to show off their poetic expertise. I hope they will link back to this post when they share the widget on their blog. I will notify the winners by email to plan for payment.
The first place winner of $35.00 is:
“Am I Dreaming,” by D. Wallace Peach
Tell me, am I dreaming? For moon-eyed owls fold their wings on the limbs outside my window, and heart-shaped stars flutter like moths beneath a tarnished silver sky. At the forest’s edge, gypsies serenade us with prayers to our bald mountain gods. I want to wake you, so we might join their song, but I drift in the between-time of a summer’s early morn. Am I dreaming? For the scent of you bathes my skin through sheets worn soft with age. Your breath dews my neck with sleeping sweetness. Will you reply if I speak your name into the shadows of our room? I’m afraid to stir lest your spirit slips away.
on the cusp of dawn
I await your soul’s embrace
drift into my dreams
balm to a widow’s sorrow
let me sleep for an hour more
With multi-sensory images, this piece maintained a sense of dreaminess from beginning to end. The beautiful prose reaches the heart while reading, with details about the narrator/narrative exquisitely and subtly revealed through the prose and the poem; “For the scent of you bathes my skin through sheets worn soft with age”; “drift into my dreams balm to a widow’s sorrow”.
Congratulations on a moving tanka prose that is both peaceful and poignant.
The Second Place winner of $25.00 is:
“Visions of Longed For Relief,” by Ken Gierke
Upon waking, I often struggle to remember my dreams, wonder what they held, the meanings my mind assigns to them even as it places them behind a veil of mystery. But on this one night, something is different.
Classical music, a collection by Edvard Grieg that includes movements from Peer Gynt Suite, plays through the speakers in my bedroom. As the first four movements play, I dream, waking as each piece ends, aware that the tone of each dream is set by the music of that moment.
Musical notes flow through my mother’s body as I care for her to the sound of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. Waking briefly, then falling back asleep, I feel my concern for her eased by the melody of Morning Mood. I wake once again to hear the start of The Death of Asa. Lulled to sleep by the somber tones of the movement, my dream turns dark and I feel as though facing an impending doom. I wake, troubled, only to fall asleep once more, this time to the light sounds of Anitra’s Dance. It is as if light, or life perhaps, is rising up to push back the darkness that had insinuated itself.
heat reaches new heights
as sun approaches apex
breeze off the water
tempers the sun’s oppression
visions of longed-for relief
An intriguing, almost haunting tanka prose piece, there is indeed “a veil of mystery,” but “on this one night something is different.” Music and mood are intertwined and ultimately this dreaming helps the narrator realize peace as he/she takes care of their mother. They also intertwined dark and light into this piece that beautifully conveys the stress and strain and the desire for relief both caregiver and cared for must feel in this situation. It too is resolved with peace and poignancy and tells an important story while sticking to the theme of dreaming in tanka prose.
The third place winner of $15.00 is:
“Between & Beyond,” by Merril D. Smith
There are journeys beyond the boundaries of the known. Brief moments, when our minds travel to a liminal place between the worlds of what is and what might be. Here I saw my parents—young and in love. Then, I saw them older and still together, as they were not in real life. The air around them glimmered and glowed. In the way of dreams, we sensed each other. They smiled, and I woke–at peace, but wondering if it was merely a dream.
moon’s silvered secrets—
wind-strum whispers, shimmer-slide
in time between breaths
I almost hear the stars sing
chimes of possibility
“In the way of dreams…” This was another personal narrative in which a dream, vividly shared, might be more than a dream. The “moon’s silvered secrets” imply that this dream was indeed a journey “beyond the boundaries of the known”, a message of “what might be”. The pivot line is well crafted, the tanka standing strong on its own while continuing the dreamy peaceful feeling of the prose.
An Honorable Mention went to:
“Finding the Way,” by Jude Itakali
It’s drizzling this morning, like it did yesterday and the day before. I skid along the mucky path to the cyclist stage. All neighbours have abandoned it for a longer, more sure-footed way. I alone dare to pass here. In a sense, at least for now, this path is mine, and I have little of that to get on with.
not for gasp nor gaze
these wild lantanas blossom
yet ensnare senses
for scent or defiant growth
no drifter can pass aloof
In days passed, I’d moan the squelch of a favourite shoe as it sank into disguised patches of mud. I’d curse those cunning patches, for like all else in this world, they’d have betrayed me. But things are different now. I see what I could not before. I feel what I feared to feel. For I have clutched at straws my entire life, to find this dream that fits like a glove.
These dreary mornings mask the sunrise glimmering in my heart and mind. But still I skip along this path in a whimsical daze; two points for sure-footing, one less per slippy slip. Nothing will douse my spirits now. There is beauty everywhere. There is hope.
what is a soul's dance
but joy's perpetuity
the kiss of purpose
to live a hypnotic life
dreaming up reality
“Finding the Way” found its way to an honorable mention. Written in first person, as tanka prose should be, the theme is woven throughout, with a clear and strong conclusion in the second tanka that summarizes the narrator’s growth along their muddy path. Even with “dreary mornings (that) mask the sunrise glimmering in my heart and mind,” the tone is one of hope and dreams for the future. This entry was much discussed and we would feel remiss in not congratulating you here for your take on the theme.
Meet the Judges
D. Slayton Avery, recently retired from teaching, now works at playing with words. D. Slayton Avery’s fiction and poetry is published in a number of online and print journals and anthologies— Boston Literary Magazine, The Hopper, Enchanted Conversations, and Santa Barbara Literary Journal, among others. She is a regular contributor at Carrot Ranch Literary Community and has two books of poetry, Chicken Shift and For the Girls, and a collection of flash fiction, After Ever, Little Stories for Grown Children. D.’s prose and poetry can be sampled at https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/.
Lisa Fox enjoys a laissez-faire lifestyle near Lake Michigan after years of government work. She’s earned a couple of pieces of paper from uni. She’s studied philosophical daoism. She currently writes poetry and flash fiction at her WordPress blog, https://tao-talk.com/. Favorite past-times are reading, writing, listening to music, gardening and observing nature for advice, bicycling, and spending time with her adult sons.