This week’s challenge was to write a free verse poem, and, judging by the response, everyone who took part enjoyed setting their creative spirits free. I certainly enjoyed reading all of this week’s entries, which though diverse in subject were united in the beauty of their poetic flow.
Our judge for this week’s challenge is Liyona of Life and Times of a Quirky Character, who won the Pantoum Poetry Challenge with her poem ‘Music lifts my spirits.’ It’s over to Liyona now for this week’s results:
“First of all, I want to say congratulations to each person who participated this week! It was great to read all of your responses and see how the free-verse form inspired you. This poetic form is a personal favorite of mine and so it was wonderful to see how other writers tackle free-verse. When judging, I was looking for creativity in word choice and sentence/poem structure along with a general ‘flow’ or rhythm to the piece. I believe that the best way to read free-verse poems is outloud. Before judging, I took the time to speak aloud these works and mull over these pieces as a whole. I recommend you read these poems aloud to get the full effect of the pieces!’
First Place: ‘A Loose Tally’ by Nick Reeves
“I have the rent until Valentine’s.”
Something in the way you said this made me smile,
made me wonder if two months was a heartbeat or forever.
You sat with one leg beneath the other on the kitchen counter,
the moon on your unbuttoned wrist and the patient rain running
(oh, should I say like tears?) behind you in the skylight, and I began,
just quietly – so as not to unsettle anything – to make a loose tally
of the opening and closing of this front door and of the teabags in the jar,
of our sweet silences and, of your words, I made penciled treasures and promises.
Judge’s comments: “I am a sucker for any type of fiction and this writer does a great job setting a scene while also cleverly using words. As a reader, we are given just enough information to understand the setting while still allowing for our imagination to be taken away by the choice of words. Like any good impressionist piece the focus on the ordinary creates a cozy space that feels nostalgic. This poem made me want to know more and stay in this world a bit longer which is always a great thing, in my opinion. One last note, the use of punctuation in this piece is very effective. It helps break up the thoughts and provides just enough rhythm to help it flow. Great job!”
Congratulations to Nick, who wins the challenge for the second time running! I would like to offer him the chance to judge next week’s challenge, which will be the last before the Christmas break. I highly recommend Nick’s website for stunning prose poetry, flash fiction, short stories and of course wonderful free verse poems!
Second Place: ‘The Welcoming Clouds’ by Goutam Dutta
They seemed to have come for a tete-e-tete.
New guests that we were
At their abode.
Outside the window
which they always show to their guests.
Dressed in their finest white,
I found them waiting patiently
outside the window
When I woke up from my sleep.
They seemed to have been waiting,
For me to wake up and see them
Drifting down from heavens
And embracing the crests of the green hills
Like an amorous lover.
Then in a moment of sheer delight,
Like a chirpy maiden’s giggle,
Reminding me of tinkling bells ringing
somewhere in the distant meadows,
The clouds let themselves fall
As gentle rain,
Thereafter to reside as droplets
Resting on window pane and
Nestling among the leafy boughs.
Judge’s Comments: “What I enjoyed about this piece is the characterization of the clouds. We all see clouds in the sky and can relate to the experience of cloud watching. I think this writer did such a great job putting into words that simple moment! By grounding the piece in that specific moment, we are able to understand and appreciate the different metaphors and similes included. For me, the use of the ‘ing words was a very smart way to keep up the moment of the poem. In the second and third stanzas, we find “waiting, drifting, embracing, reminding, tinkling”. All these words are great action verbs invoking a sense of constant motion, not unlike when you watch clouds pass in the sky. Great work!”
Congratulations to Goutam, of Goutam’s Writings. As Goutam himself says: ‘The human mind is restless and often tends to wander. In course of its wandering, it picks up thoughts, images, interacts with others’ mind and then returns to sit and ruminate. In course of rumination, often a poetry is born.’ The beautiful poem which Goutam entered was born of just such an interaction, ‘a poem about the clouds outside a hillside resort that we had visited on a holiday.’
Third Place: ‘Revolutionary‘ by Jaya Avendel
My mother plays a recording
The voices of young women
I know only as old
Seep into every crack in the drywall.
The ladies in my family
Make their ruby and turquoise
Bronze and feather marks.
Painted nails on dreams
Their etchings leave a paved wake for
Future generations to tread.
The brick is unyielding.
You want me to run after you
Snatch at your curled hair
Find warmth under your umbrella
It blocks out the sky.
How dare you
Pass on your shadow to me?
The wise walk in old steps
The foolish walk backwards
I reject the path altogether.
Judge’s comments: “What I really enjoyed in this piece was the author’s use of structure and form. In free-verse, part of the creativity is changing the visual presentation of the poem. Because the stanzas go back and forth, we are able to have a visual representation of the author learning more about her own family and their path. I imagined looking at an old family photo and going from one face to the next, remembering the sacrifices they each made. As the stanzas progress, the movement feels like a pathway for the reader to follow. When the last stanza breaks from the path, more weight is given to those lines. A true revolutionary. I really loved the creativity here. Keep up the great work!”
Congratulations to Jaya, previous winner and internationally-published poet who writes at Nin Chronicles. I too enjoyed this family saga, and most of all I enjoyed the narrator’s refusal to conform, as expressed so powerfully in the concluding lines.
To everyone who took part, I say thank you and congratulations. You are keeping the poetic spirit alive and kicking here on WordPress, and I love reading all of your beautiful contributions. I look forward to reading your work again in future challenges! Special thanks to Liyona for all the time and effort she put in to judging the competition, which is never an easy task.
Stay tuned for next week’s EIF Poetry Challenge, to be announced same time same place, on 16 December.