Now that I’m living in Portland, I decided to become a member of the Oregon Poetry Association and entered their Spring contest. What a wonderful surprise to be one of the honorable mentions for my first ever Ghazal poem. Congratulations to all the winners:
Traditional Form. Judge: Ruth Harrison
1st Place: “Yellow Moon” by Michael Hanner, Eugene
2nd Place: “Puck Unrequited” by Kelly McDowell, Waldport
3rd Place: “Year of the Swine” by Marjorie Power, Corvallis
“Dimensional Dementia” by Jean Adams, Winston
“When Summer Rises” by Donna Hein, Eugene
“Safe Distance from the Flame” by Shawn Aveningo, Beaverton
Kudos to every poet who tackled this challenging and somehow off-putting form. It’s a form calling for courage, syllable-counting patience, and persistence, along with inspiration, to make it happen successfully. Everyone who attempted it is solidly grounded in her craft, and honors his medium.
#1 earned that spot with masterly use of language, fine imagery, telling details, paying unobtrusive heed to all the rules, and finally, dealing with the identifier-couplet in an unusual way.
#2 offers excellent sensory appeal as well as colorful images, to satisfy the old form in new ways.
#3 offers an engaging back-story and a pleasing stretch of the language to create a strong poem.
All three honorable mentions push the boundaries of the form to fulfill its potential, and present lively, memorable details and phrases: sinking ship, “when summer rises,” and the unforgettable charred broom.
Here’s the poem . . .
Safe Distance From the Flame
A safe distance from the flame, one length of a broom
away from nightmares – Dad holding a charred broom.
Visions of him sweeping ashes, our burning home
“Please Father,” I begged him, “Please drop the broom.”
When I was six, Dad took me to the movies –
Walt Disney’s debut of Bedknobs and Broom…
A poet once spoke of his father’s funeral pyre,
guiding body into flame with the handle of a broom.
Could cremation deter a happily ever after-life?
Returning only to sweep our own ashes with a broom?
After Dad’s funeral, his old buddies tell me a tale –
an old apartment up in flames, Dad grabbing a broom.
After volunteers pick up Dad’s clothes and golf gear,
Daughter will sweep the garage with her father’s old broom.