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Debra Wallin, CWC President, shares opportunities for our members to improve their writing craft.

Kerry Hubbard, CWC Membership Chair goes through the answers for this month's Membership Engagement.  The members had a list of either a line from poetry, or a lyric from a Disney song and had to choose if it was from Emily Dickinson, or Disney.  Mary Struble Deery won only missing three!

David Poston, CWC Contest Chair, shares the Poetry Contest judge Tina Barr's credentials and comments for each winner of the contest.

Third place winner in the student category, Barry Smith read his entry Apparitions of Youth. 

The judge had these comments:

I loved the straightforward opening line of this poem: “The ranch from the salad cools my summer tongue.”  The writer creates a concrete narrative in reality, a cookout, using the off-rhyme “veil” and “grill” in a clever fashion.   The writer fills the space of the poem, “Grandmother is outside knitting while / my nieces and nephews laugh and run about.”  The poet employs end rhyme in the middle section, where the poem goes slightly abstract, but we are drawn back “to the present,” during the poem’s conclusion, in which the writer recognizes an earned knowledge, based on the decade’s experience, since that initial cookout.  This is a poem that “recollects in tranquility.” 

Second place winner in the student category, Ella McDermott read her entry Adoration.

The judge had these comments:

This poem appears to be an ode to the sun, which itself is a star, and the trajectory of the poem, with its personifying “she” and “he,” juggles the idea of two literal beings, moving from morning to night.  We are inside a love poem, with a personified flowering, “love / that drips from the sky / like molten honey,” with sexual overtones as well as the idea of a literal flower or a person.   The way the writer oscillates, allowing us to imagine two people, a flower, then a burnt heart, which could literally be burned by the sun, reminds me of a John Donne strategy.  I can’t think of greater praise!

David Poston read the first place winner in the student category, Ella McDermott's entry Texas Summer.

The judge had these comments:

I love the way this poem opens so directly, seeing July as a “fast” an “exercise for the exorcist.”  And the way the poem shifts to a consideration of “those first settlers,” as it opens the arena of the poem up.  The speaker’s voice is direct and the poem follows the mind’s leaps into various surprising directions, creating images that pile up, in a positive, even exuberant fashion.  “Like bread going from a hot trunk to an overly / air-conditioned kitchen, my lungs fill with mold; central air.”  Sometimes the images can’t be read literally, but we are willing to go along with them: “My fluorescent complexion,” because the writer is inventive.  The poet’s description and personification of the blue jay’s activities is arresting, and the shift to the building the writer inhabits in this “Texas summer” is seen as a prison: “the architect / of this building designs prisons.”  The writer is careful with the use of line and form, uses allusion as a prosodic strategy, chooses active verbs.  In short, this poem interested me, drew attention to itself, in a wondrous fashion.

Third place winner in the adult category, Richard Allen Taylor read his entry Ginger, the Yellow Lab.

The judge had these comments:

This moving poem layers the presence of Danny’s dog, who has cancer, with the speaker and his wife’s cancer.   In reference to the wife’s cancer, the poet states, “I watched her pull out her hair, drop it in the trash.”  But in a wonderful tonal juxtaposition, the lab, Ginger, “metronomes a wag of greeting.”  The speaker and his wife survive; it’s Ginger who will die.  The writer’s voice is direct, both ironic and comic, terse and effective.  I really like this poem.

Second  place winner in the adult category, Danielle Pasqua read her entry Colors of Hope.

The judge had these comments:

This poet makes an ABC poem, beginning each line with a sequential letter of the alphabet.  The writer’s strategy takes me back to the delight we all experience in nursery rhymes, in the satisfactions of language itself.  At the same time, the poet has grouped the poem’s lines in stanzas of four lines each, with a closing couplet, making use of a loose aabb pattern.  The writer manages to navigate these requirements without making the language convoluted.  I especially like the line “Cocoa is reflected on the sand,” because I can smell cocoa, I can see its color, and it gives me a new way of seeing sand as a certain utcolor.  The poem is all about landscape, but conflates the way in which artists “see” land:  “X marks the spot where color is the best.”  So the poem is more sophisticated than it first appears, and it is gratifying to read.

Grace Ocasio read the first place winner in the adult catergory Lucia Robinson's entry Does a Bar in the Hand Beat a Guggenheim?.

The judge had these comments:

I was taken with this poem because of its combination of long vernacular lines with end rhymes, so the formal pattern exerts a certain pressure in the poem, while the voice itself is talkative, engaging, and irreverent.  The poem tells a story, an autobiography, of a writer and her sister who chose to study literature, despite their father’s disparagement.  The poem draws the reader in, through its humor, its undercurrents of conflict, its dense recollection and the breadth of biographical information.  And its rhymes delight: “Sylvia Plath” and “bath,” “wits” and “poets,” “Lesbians” and “Thespians.”  And there is a delicious surprise at the close, when the poet rhymes “tongue,” with the name of a poet born early in the twentieth century, “Marguerite Young.”   I was fully persuaded by this extravagant voice.

Kathie Collins, CWC Program chair introduces our guest speaker, John Amen.

John Amen discusses a few points for poets to consider when writing.

Patience: Get comfortable being in 'incompletion'.  Patience allows the writer to fully develop transitional spaces. It helps fo find images or metaphors that point to the deeper meaning in the poem.

Commitment: Writers need to commit to a practice of exploring and developing their craft.

Consistency: Be consistent and practice.

Revision: A poem's energy or 'soul' gives it meaning. The poem's shape and form give it 'wings'.   It's easier to revise structure then it's soul.  Many times a poet can have a great first draft with great energy or soul, however, it may need work on it's structure or shape.

John continued to discuss how  the 'music of language is something that needs to be practiced'.  Committing to the process and the rhythm of language, although illusive, can find the poet.

JOHN'S NOTES from the meeting.

Look at all those incredible members and guests!

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