2011 Poetry Contest Winners
Split This Rock is pleased to announce the winners and share the winning poems of our fourth annual poetry contest, judged by 2010 featured poet Jan Beatty.
- The first-prize winner, Constance Norgren, receives $500, free festival registration, and an invitation to read the winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March 2012.
- Catherine Calabro (second prize) and Kendra DeColo (third prize) each receive $250 and free registration at the 2012 festival.
- "In a Jerusalem Market" by Naomi Benaron, Tucson, Arizona
- "Msenge" by Casey Charles, Missoula, Montana
- "The Rising" by Raina J. León, Germany
We are grateful to Jan Beatty, our volunteers and interns, and all the poets for their submissions — we hope you will consider sharing your work with us in future years. Submission fees help support the mission of Split This Rock, integrating the poetry of provocation and witness into public life and supporting the poets who do this vital work.
"It was an honor to judge the poems for the 2011 Split This Rock Contest. What comes through in all the entries is a sense of integrity of voice, coupled with a feeling that something necessary and urgent is at stake. This urgency expresses itself in the risks taken with content, as writers enter the borderlands around body and country, crossing the boundaries into spirit. In the act of addressing the difficult and the unsayable, these poems bring hope." —Jan Beatty
Who is she, standing just off-center,
her eyes on us, caught turning to us,
her arms folded over her chest,
a woman almost stone now?
What else can she be but stone? Around her
a heaving ocean of stone, cement shattered, splintered wood.
Lower right, close in: small boy’s smooth face.
He may be clenching the flowered dress near him
or clenching his fist.
The man in the white shirt, his arm outstretched—
shouting or sobbing? Others shouting or sobbing
and that lone figure dragging a wooden beam—
where will he lay it down?
Constance Norgren is the author of the chapbook Same Boat (5 Spice Press, 2008)
and co-author (with Lois Adams, Barbara Elovic, and Patricia Markert) of To Genesis
(5 Spice Press, 2004). She lives in Brooklyn with her family and is an active member
of Brooklyn For Peace.
Santa Maria della Pieve above us, and the light-speared trees.
At the cast-iron table you tried to tell
the gentleman how we were related,
how I came from you, or halves of you.
You could not swallow. Had you forgotten me,
or merely how the tongue shapes sound?
I spoke—that is, I remember saying Sono sua figlia,
a circle between us with my thumb, but I could not remember
the word for want or leave or bread or trees.
Seems foreign, doesn’t it, to explain what is fluent in nature?
Your nose as my nose, your skin and lashes
your brows and fingers. Your throat.
Catherine Calabro holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan,
where she was also awarded a Zell Postgraduate Fellowship in Poetry. She now
works in Ann Arbor as the Program Coordinator for 826michigan, a non-profit
organization dedicated to helping students aged 6-18 with their creative and
expository writing skills.
THE STRAP-ON SPEAKS
It is easy to believe
we are separate entities,
you and I
as I wait, a fish in the chasm
of a drawer
inhabiting the silk
and dust scored dark,
biding my time
until the need arises,
I, who was created
not to bear witness,
but make you more fully
who you are,
as a bloomed,
dreams through pressed lids
and glands, lips
some blue throb
At times, we blur
and I don’t know which of us
this harness means
strapped with wings,
the shorn heaven
of back and ass
the burning fields among us.
I want to be your tongue
torching a city,
a storm wrenched
as the threat of a wave.
What am I to you
if not the climb
towards blinding light,
if not this apathy
of reckless stars
where you buck,
dizzy with atmosphere,
the compass of me swiveling
at the root.
What am I
if not vein, vessel,
if not phantom
spinning inside flesh,
no lust to speak of,
and what of me
remains, I wonder,
in your hollows,
cusping your instep,
a soreness of aura,
If we ever get to where
we want to go,
I swear I will erupt,
as a wingless bird
carried up by my own
as the hand of a god.
Kendra DeColo lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is completing her MFA
in poetry at Vanderbilt University. She has taught poetry workshops in prisons,
homeless shelters, hospitals, and public schools. Co-founder of Re-visions,
Vanderbilt’s prison writing program, Kendra teaches at the Tennessee Prison
for Women and is the head poetry editor and co-founder of Nashville Review.
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