2010 Poetry Contest Winners
Split This Rock is pleased to announce the winners and share the winning poems of our third annual poetry contest, judged by 2010 featured poet Chris Abani. Winning poems are published below.
- The 1st-place winner, Simki Ghebremichael, receives $500, free festival registration, an invitation to read the winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March 2010, and publication in the Fall 2010 issue of Potomac Review. (The 2009 Poetry Contest Winner, Teresa Scollon, will also read her poem “River, Page” at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2010.)
- Marie-Elizabeth Mali (second place) and Sonja de Vries (third place) receive $250 and free registration at the 2010 festival.
We are grateful to Chris Abani, our volunteers and interns, and to all the poets for their submissions — we hope they will consider submitting again 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.
- The Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention — Barbara Leon, Aptos, CA
- History Dream #12: Stoned. Again. — Richard Downing, Hudson, FL
- The Importance of a Good Education — Elizabeth Thomas, Columbia, CT
- Iowa State Penitentiary — David Eberhardt, Baltimore, MD
- Broad Street Station: A Soliloquy — Michelle Y. Burke, Brooklyn, NY
- prayer for david while he locked up — Emma Shaw Crane, Sebastopol, CA
- O Three-Eyed Lord — Marie-Elizabeth Mali, New York, NY
- Shiva Candles — Barbara Leon, Aptos, CA
- Khamsin — Naomi Benaron, Tucson, AZ
- An Old Story of Food — Sarah Zale, Port Townsend, WA
- Celebrating in Coffee Bay, Transkei — Meghan Smith, Washington, DC
- Chicago Epiphany of Faces — Ellen Sazzman, Potomoc, MD
- love poem to a soldier — Corinne A. Schneider, Washington, DC
- Holiday Lights — Yahya Frederickson, Moorhead, MN
- Bellwether — Cynthia Rausch Allar, Pasadena, CA
- Something Fragile — Colleen Michaels, Beverly, MA
Instead of Most Wanted
by the FBI, each week
they profile the life
of a dissident, a former
inmate of Bariscov prison.
He came home every evening
to his flat after a day of cranking
the presses for the Communist daily
and he uncovered his ancient Corona,
and inserted seven layers of onionskin
and seven layers of carbon
because that’s how many sheets
the keys could imprint
and he typed each letter
of a banned novel
keeping the margins thin
to get the most words in
except he left the white space
around Ginsberg and
—Simki Ghebremichael, Bethesda, Maryland
Simki Ghebremichael helped found National Poetry Week in 1986 in San Francisco—the genesis of April’s National Poetry Month begun by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. A featured reader at DC-area poetry venues, Simki’s poems are in Beltway Poetry Quarterly and Innisfree online. Her journal excerpt on the start of the Iraq War appears in Keeping Time, an anthology of journal writing from Passager Books in Baltimore (2009). She has recent poems in Concise Delight and So To Speak, George Mason University’s feminist literary journal. Simki will receive her MFA in Creative Writing from American University in June 2010. Her poetry chapbooks are 23, Getting the News From Poems, and Africa/Vietnam. Always inspired by multicultural meetings, she is most proud of her bilingual three-year-old grandson who is fluent in English and Czech.
Balancing on crutches in the shallows
near her mother, a girl missing her right lower leg
swings her body and falls, laughing.
Behind them, her father and brother play catch.
Up the beach, the incoming tide nibbles
a sleeping woman, another beer is opened.
A young veteran walks by with a high and tight
buzz cut and Semper Fi shoulder tattoo, his right leg
a prosthesis to mid-thigh. He approaches
the family, removes the prosthesis, and joins
the girl in the water. They lift shorn legs high
and smack them down. No one talks about the war.
—Marie-Elizabeth Mali, New York, New York
Marie-Elizabeth Mali lives in New York City. She is a co-curator of louderARTS: the Reading Series at Bar 13 Lounge and Page Meets Stage at the Bowery Poetry Club and is a poetry editor for TIFERET: A Journal of Spiritual Literature. Her work has appeared in Calyx, MiPOesias, and RATTLE, among others. www.floweringlotus.com
A Response to "What's Your Sexual Orientation?"
I’d say it’s to the left of the persimmon
Split open, my fingertips slide
into burnt-orange pulp.
Some days it’s in the grip of a hawk flying
up from the field, snake dangling from its mouth
Could be in the river, her rising rapids
urging me to pull off the road and moments later,
my clothes on the rocks, I enter her gasping.
It’s just below the oak tree where march wind lifts
my shirt, tender skin exposed,
and the squirrels don’t give a damn.
—Sonja de Vries, Prospect, Kentucky
Sonja de Vries is a filmmaker, writer, and activist. De Vries’s enduring influences have been the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, June Jordan, and Pablo Neruda and a Dutch communist grandmother who taught her about resistance and survival under Nazi occupation. De Vries lives on a farm outside Louisville, Kentucky, with her son Devlin and partner Beth, and hopes to teach creative writing in the near future.
Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Click here to read the code.