Dear Rain*

October 22, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Sterling C.H. Bemment, 3rd Grade

Dear Rain,
You probably
don’t
remember me
The vast
Ocean
of sand
that is scorching hot
I would trade
all the animals
and all the plants
just for you
to visit me
And quench my thirst
And stop me longing for you
From, the Desert

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Sterling C.H. Bemment. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.

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Let them be Cars*

October 15, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Mason Mills, 9th Grade

Let them be cars,
Always fueled, fixed, loved,
But harnessed to the road.

I’d rather be submarine,
Cruising underwater like a shark,
Exploring the deepest depths of the ocean.

To have shattered theories,
To dive and search,
To be carried among the waves,
Currents moving me all around the world.

I’d rather be unseen,
Unknown by all,
Than to be a shiny new car,
Made in a factory,
Praised by all,
And driven by greedy hands.

If I could be alone, strong and free,
I’d rather be a submarine.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Mason Mills. Broadside illustrated by Mat Hudson.


2017 Merit Award
By Sheila Nickerson

Yes, they come masked,
she admitted, but she was lonely.
She didn’t smoke or drink.
Why not spend money on raccoons —
that one big bag a week?
All her dogs had died, and her cats.
She could name them, one by one.
She was born in Nazi Germany,
remembered the Gestapo
breaking down her family’s door,
tearing up her childhood things —
there was a music box —
while searching for evidence
that never was.
Her family is gone, now.
There was no one left to call or visit.
When no one came to her door
at Halloween, she fed the candy
to the raccoons. They make her happy,
she said, and every night they’re back.

. . . . .
Sheila Nickerson is an American poet and writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Alaska and was twice awarded the Pushcart Prize. Much of her writing focuses on Alaska, nature, and arctic exploration.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Sheila Nickerson. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

poetry postcards 2017

October 5, 2017

As a seven-year veteran of the August Poetry Postcard Fest (APPF), I think it just keeps getting better. This year, I received more postcards and better poems than in previous years (several arrived after the above photo was snapped).

Taking a hint from other postcarders, I wrote all of my poems on a theme. What that means is that I now have a collection of short poems to revise into a chapbook! The theme added an unexpected energy to the process: while I gave little thought to what I’d write the next day, each morning a poem seemed to be waiting to be shaped to postcard size.

Each year, a number of participants do a recap of their APPF adventures. Here are a few who have provided links:

Paul E. Nelson | Barbara Jean Sunshine Walsh |
Christine Hartzell
| Jane Swanson | Judith van Praag | Kristin Cleage Williams | L. Lisa Lawrence | Linda Crosfield |Margo Jodyne Dills | Rosanne Martine-Braslow (2016) | Sarah Sousa

One of the pleasures of APPF is that it explores the boundary between words and image. Many participants make their own postcards and many use images from cards sent or received as a place to begin their poems.

At an event coming up this Monday in Bellingham, we’ll explore that boundary. More than your typical stand-up-and-read poetry reading, Poetry Postcards: a panel and conversation will examine the postcard experience from many directions, including the visual. Please join us at this free event and postcard exchange!

Monday, October 9, 2017, 7:00pm
Bellingham, Washington
Poetry Postcards: a panel and conversation
at the Mount Baker Theatre, Encore Room

A conversation with panelists Tallie Jones, Nancy Pagh, Eugenia Hepworth Petty, Ina Roy-Faderman, and Joanna Thomas, plus moderator Paul Nelson. They will show images, offer resources, read postcard poems, lead exercises, and offer prompts. As a bonus, there will be a postcard exchange: bring unused postcards (commercial or handmade) and take home an equal number contributed by others. Click for PDF event flyer with panelist bios.

There are other APPF events scheduled in October, in Seattle and Portland, and more on the way. Meanwhile, the countdown to August Poetry Postcard Fest 2018 has already begun (to make sure you don’t miss the sign-up call, go to that page and sign up for Paul Nelson’s newsletter).

NBA finalists

October 4, 2017

NBA…that’s National Book Awards, right? You knew that, yeah? The National Book Foundation has announced finalists for this year’s awards in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature. The finalists in poetry are:

  • Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)
  • Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings (University of Akron Press)
  • Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS (Graywolf Press)
  • Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (Graywolf Press)

Judged by Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken, and Monica Youn, the poetry long list also included:

  • Chen Chen, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, Ltd.)
  • Marie Howe, Magdalene: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Laura Kasischke, Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Sherod Santos, Square Inch Hours (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • Mai Der Vang, Afterland (Graywolf Press)

The winners will be announced on November 15. Congratulations to the poets. See the complete list on the National Book Foundation website.

Princess and Maiden*

October 1, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Ruby Thomas, 4th Grade

Even princess and maiden come together like the wind,
When old Mrs. Locket calls,
“Good morning! Good morning to all.
Well wishes to all of yo!”
Then dog and cat
Hawk and mouse,
Good and bad,
Come together like all is well, like all is well,
While princess and maiden stand hand in hand,
Looking out the window.

. . . . .
Ruby Thomas is in 5th grade at Happy Valley Elementary. She loves animals and has three cats and one dog. This is her first published poem, and she thought it up while looking out the window.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Ruby Thomas. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.


2017 Merit Award
By Roger William Gilman

Some of my brothers are broad-backed low-set men
unlike the other who stands like me tall and scrawny
vulnerable to the wickedness of weather.

We’re ducks and herons standing by the great lake
fists jammed to pockets shoulders hunched, soldiers
against fierce wind, five hundred miles away from home

longing, preparing for hard flying, drunk with desire,
between moonlit clouds and the shine off the Snake — as
it turns west through the Tetons toward the prairies

of Idaho, rivers-on through rolling sage of the Palouse
into Columbia Basin where it stretches tongue out mouth
past a broken line of island teeth to taste the Pacific —

the shine showing us the way home.

It’s the shoulders we have in common . . . as we stand
along the lake in the snapping wind . . . crafting silences
more articulate than ever . . . getting ready to leave

for home . . . the distance in our heads.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Roger William Gilman. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

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