August poets and the word for September

BULLETIN: This just in from Nile Stanley. He and Gary Dulabaum will be appearing at the Nebraska State Reading Association in 2012. Nile and Gary have both been my Featured Guests and Nile was our judges’ selection for Word of the Month Poet in November, 2010 for his poem, “Words.” Congratulations to Nile and Gary.

Hi everyone,

It is my pleasure to announce our winning poets for August. Joy Acey, who lives in Tucson, Arizona and attended my poetry workshop at Honesdale in June, takes top honors in both categories with her poem, “The View from the Iron.” It doesn’t happen often that a poet wins both Hall of Fame Poet and Word of the Month Poet in the same month. The last one to accomplish it was Susan Carmichael from Columbus, Ohio, another poetry workshop attendee, who pulled it off in June for her poem, “Such a Good Puppy.” Susan has since placed her poem with Magazine.

Here are some comments by judges this month about Joy’s winning entry.

“One particular line ‘loose tongues when they went to town,’ is really splendid.”

“I love the easy rhyme and whimsical story of the snowman poem but really love the story of the
iron and the family … sooooooooo, soooooooooooo
I think I will go with ‘View from the Iron’ as my first choice, since it is so different and I do like the details in the poem.
But I really like ‘Can’t/Won’t Compromise,’ also.”

“Can’t/Won’t Compromise?” was posted by Liz Korba from New Jersey. Liz tied with Steven Withrow in January 2011 for Hall of Fame Poet with her poem, “Fathom,” and this month she finished in second place for Word of the Month Poet.

Congratulations to Joy for sweeping honors in August, to Liz for a close second, and to all of our poets who seized on one word to create a new collection of original poetry. I’m delighted each and every month by the diversity of approaches and voices and I’m grateful to everyone for supporting the exercise.

Once again, my thanks to our judges.

Are you ready for the word for September? Here it is: CLASS

September is the 12th month of our second one-year cycle of Word of the Month. During the first twenty-three months, Steven Withrow and Mary Nida Smith have posted poems in each month. Liz Korba posted a poem late one month but still posted it to share, making her another who has posted at least twenty-three times. There are others who are close to that number. I’ll try to bring the records up to date before long and post the whole thing. It’s fun to see how many poets have joined the fun over the past two years.

Beginning the third cycle of Word of the Month in October, I expect to make some changes regarding the voting aspect of the exercise. For some time now I’ve thought about dropping the voting process and focusing on the fun of writing, posting, and commenting on poetry. Steven Withrow has also suggested it and put it well. Here is a note from Steven a few weeks ago.

Hi, David.

I visited your blog to vote today, and it started me wondering if you might consider evolving your word-of-the-month “contest” into a word-of-the-month “challenge” — not unlike the Miss Rumphius Effect weekly poetry stretch, but on a monthly schedule.

The basic setup would be the same as you have now, and finished poems would be posted at the end of each month. It would eliminate, however, the competitive aspect as well as the time you invest in managing the judging and voting process. I noticed that the number of votes is generally low (for the adult side) compared with the number of entries — and the great thread of comments — each month.

People mainly participate for the camaraderie, sharing, challenge, support, feedback, and inspiration that come from a regular group activity. We’re less concerned about whose poem wins. We also might think of new ways to encourage poets to revise their work based on group feedback.

Perhaps it’s something you’ll consider for the start of 2012? Or as early as September, with the start of the new school year?


Although I’ve made no final decision yet, I’m leaning toward doing exactly what Steven suggests. We have another month to decide and I am interested in hearing from others. Please let me have your comments about how Word of the Month should operate starting in October. Thanks very much.


July winners and August W.O.M. word

Hi everyone,

For the first time since I started my blog, I’m skipping a Sunday Poem of the Week slot. I haven’t run out of published poems. It just worked out that today is when I need to post winners for July and I didn’t want to delay doing it in order to post one of my poems. I’ll get back on track next Sunday.

Congratulations go to Heidi Mordhorst for being the judges’ pick for Word of the Month Poet with her poem, “tart text.” Thanks, Heidi, for introducing some of us to the cryptic vocabulary of the world of text. Here are some comments by the judges.

“tart text” is certainly contemporary and would no doubt appeal to a host of readers.

“tart text” is an original, clever text-message poem.
I’m sure the old purest out there will cringe at its
use of cryptic symbols in place of traditional words,
but there’s something fresh and fascinating about it.
It’s the kind of contemporary poem I’m sure
e.e. cummings would enjoy.

Michelle Ellison took second place with her poem, “Sour.” One of our judges had this to say: “Sour” has a strong emotional feel to it and I appreciate the sensitivity involved in this brief scene. I like the repetition of “Sour is…” plus the use of alliteration in “feel the fluid.”

Our winner for July’s Hall of Fame Poet is Cory Corrado for her poem, “Sour Luck.” Way to go, Cory! Congratulations to you and my thanks to all who participated in the fun for July.

And now, the word for August: HOT

May winners and June word of the month

Hi everyone,

WRITERS AT WORK, regularly scheduled for today, will appear tomorrow this week so that I can announce this month’s honored poets.

First, the Word of the Month poets chosen by our panel of distinguished judges.

Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Yeti’s Promise.” Ken is from Arizona and last month tied with Mary Nida Smith (Arkansas) for the Hall of Fame voting. Here’s a comment from one of the judges. “Certainly original, with a touch of the absurd! This imaginative poem has an interesting rhyme scheme, with line 7’s chime echoing loud and clear. Repeat vowel sounds also work well: ‘sassafrassin’ and ‘horoscopes in hopes.’ Congratulations, Ken!

Runner-up for May’s Word of the Month Poet is Cory Corrado from Montreal for her poem, “Promises.” One judge had this to say about Cory’s poem. “I love these lines especially: ‘Buzzing pollen kisses,’ ‘Cherrilicious red harvest,’ and ‘Nature’s pledge-unspoken, unbroken.’ Way to go, Cory!

Several past winners in both divisions who are ineligible to win again during this cycle nevertheless joined in the fun of Word of the Month and entertained us with their work. Thanks to Gay Fawcett, Julie Krantz, Steven Withrow, and other previous winners who continue to support W.O.M.

Every judge commented on how strong the young poets’ work was in May. As a group they all deserve much credit.

The poet selected to be May Word of the Month Young Poet is Maya Dayal who attends 6th grade in Ohio at Maumee Valley Country Day School and whose teacher is Jana Smith. Maya’s poem is “Broken Home, Broken Field.” Congratulations, Maya. The judges were moved by and loved your poem!

In a close second place is Emma Lavetter-Keiden, a 5th grader at Maumee Valley whose teacher, Nan Valuck, posted her lovely poem, “Balance.” Here’s what one judge had to say about Emma’s poem. “I like the light and dark contrast created in this poem: ‘One shedding light/ The other stealing it.’ The occasional use of a single word per line is effective. Repetition works well in the last three lines. A nice piece of writing — with an air or mystery about it.”

I should mention that a previous winner in both divisions (Word of the Month Young Poet and also Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poet) turned in another strong effort this month. He couldn’t win again during this period but we still appreciated the work of P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit for his poem, “The King’s ‘Grammer.'”

Now we turn to May’s Hall of Fame Poets who were selected by popular vote from readers and fans.

Jackie Huppenthal from Indiana wins in a tight race for her poem, “It’s Sneaky — Be Aware.” Previous winners who were also in the race include Gay Fawcett for her poem, “Foolish Games,” Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Yeti’s Promise,” Steven Withrow for his poem, “Right Whale Bones,” and Janet Gallagher for her poem, “Promises.”

Our winning poet for May is Ishani Gupta, grade 5, for her poem, “Unbroken.” Runnerup is Rory Hopkins, grade 5, for his poem, “Curse You Homework.” Rory’s poem is the only one for two voices that we’ve ever received. Both students are from Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio.

Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who spent the time and effort to participate in the month’s Word of the Month exercise. I’m grateful and I look forward to your contributions next month. And now . . .

The Word of the Month for June is PET.