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Caroline Kenna, CWC President welcomes new members and guests and thanks the leadership team.

Mack Staton announced the winners of the Ruth Moose Flash Fiction Contest and read our judge Luke Whisnant's comments for our winners.

FIRST PLACE: “General Binky” by Michael Beadle

This piece features an excellent in medias res opening and an original situation. In less than 500 words, “General Binky” surprises well: the ending is unexpected but completely believable given the story’s inner logic. There’s a nice sensitivity to artistic language here—the clown on his bike will “squonk a loony horn”; streetlights shine “like blurry moons unmoored from their orbits”; a pigeon deposits “a white splat on the black muzzle” of the General’s bronze horse. We know this is a Confederate statue, because (in a great example of “show, don’t tell”) the opening paragraph describes a pedestal “scribbled with graffiti … proclaiming the people’s rage.” This piece satirically suggests an alternative to tearing down these racist relics. It’s a wonderfully timely take on one aspect of our current cultural moment.

SECOND PLACE: “Spring Storm” by Paul Kurzeja

The best flash fiction offers space for a reader to fill. There’s an undercurrent of meaning that’s implied rather than explicitly stated; as in Hemingway’s “iceberg technique,” the real story floats just under the surface. This striking piece is narrated in an unusual first person plural point of view, as a group of children, uncomprehending, try to answer their father’s unexpected query: What do you know about death? “We knew something was wrong with father,” they say, but with childhood innocence they can’t figure it out, and at first, neither can we readers. The story ends symbolically, with an approaching storm bearing wind and rain and intimations of mortality. And readers are left questioning, like the children, “Where was Mom?”

THIRD PLACE: “In Therapy” by David E. Poston

This engaging piece shows an attention to form that we don’t often see in more conventional flash stories. The Q-A format requires a certain skillful restraint on the writer’s part. Eschewing any narrative framework or even speech tags, “In Therapy” is pure dialogue, two unadorned voices, one offering, one responding. There’s an agenda here, but it’s all in the subtext. What begins as an ostensible counseling session in the end becomes a brief but suggestive meditation on memory, miracles, and the nature of time itself.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

“Cliché Touche” by Landis Wade

“Meditations For Oliver” by Patricia Everett

“Talisman” by Anne Kissel

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

David Poston reads his 3rd place winning entry "In Therapy'

Paul Kurzeja reads from his 2nd place winning entry "Spring Storm"

Michael Beadle reads from his 1st place winning entry "General Binky".

Angela Heigler introduced Diana Pinckney our December Speaker

The Tiger in The Poem

 
In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:

a thing is brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us,

so we blink out eyes as if a tiger had sprung out

and stood in the light, lashing his tail.

--Chez Milosz, from Ars Poetica

 
The above quote says to me that the tiger we release when we write is the mystery and wonder of writing. The unexpected, out of the dark jungle of our hearts and minds, sprung from the depth of our being—” the constellation of the unconscious” as a great poet, Stanley Kunitz, said when speaking of what happens when we go deeper. It’s work and it’s scary, just as the blank page is scary. But as writers that is our goal—to meet up with a tiger and see what imaginative paths he may lead us down. The poet Carl Phillips calls it the “act of daring.” Theodore Roethke said “Poetry is an act of mischief.”

 
We can examine the surprises, and use the tools of revision that help us write our way to the heart of a poem. We find our voices in first drafts, in overwriting, in exploring our thoughts through writing them down, exploring our emotions, our own recurring images. If we trust these images, they may take us to mystery and beauty never imagined.

We also need to listen to the voices in our heads, the voices all around us. Sounds are a major element of poems. We read with our ears when poems are in front of us on the page or the screen. Robert Frost maintained that an appetite for sounds is the first qualification for a writer.  Other challenges and pleasures can come from experimenting with how the poem looks on the page—crafting with both formal and free verse patterns. 

In revision, what is held back may enable us to give more – to ourselves and our readers – the poem behind the poem or as prose writers might put it, the story behind the story. All this while trusting the struggle to make our poems better than ourselves – not smarter, better. Believe me, I have no illusions about the impact of poetry in this world. As William Carlos Williams so famously said:

  

It is difficult

to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there.

From  Asphodel, That Greeny Flower

 

Yet, after terrible disasters like 9/11, poems were pinned all over the fencing around the craters where the towers came down. More recently poems were put up in Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral after that tragic fire.  And now we, and most of the world are in the turmoil of dealing, in the best ways we know how, with combating and trying to stay safe during the COVID—19 virus crisis.  In times like the present, I think of what Martin Luther King said, “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”   So why not poetry? Let the tiger in us as writers be the strength to reach out to each other, to make poetry a major consolation in times of isolation. We are writers. Let’s write letters. Let’s use the technological tools we have to send poems and connect with friends, family and each other. And let’s be confident we will gather and meet again in the not too distant future. I want to end with some beautiful words from the late poet, novelist and Nobel Prize winner, the beautiful Toni Morrison. 

There is no time for despair,

no place for self-pity,

no need for silence,

no room for fear,

We speak, we write, we do language.

That is how civilizations heal.

David Collins, Co-Programming Chair fields questions by the members.

Some of the questions that were asked:

QUESTION Please explain what an ekphrastic poem is.

QUESTION: When you write an ekphrastic poem how do you reference what work of art you are writing about?

QUESTION: Could Ekphrastic poetry include musical artists as well?  Can the ekphrastic include all forms of art- plays, films, etc.

QUESTION:  What are some ways that Diana is intentional about "releasing the tiger" in her own work? How does she suggest we do that ours? How does that transfer into our prose?  ANSWER: You have to keep writing to get to it. In her early career, she would take summer workshops and study with people who lived in New York, California, etc.  She learned you have to keep working at it. Write and write till you get to the 'tiger' to release it. 

QUESTION: I heard "Indecent" as Coarse or Vulgar which have separate meanings of their own. Do you feel more free when you recognize the Tiger has been released? ANSWER:  Releasing the Tiger is getting to the emotions.

QUESTION:  How do you work through an ekphrastic poem without making it just about purely describing the work of art? How do you draw out a story from the artwork, a kind of narrative?
 


 


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