Your judges have waded through five shopping bags full of love poems from all over, and now on the Day of Decision we are mulling over 25 poems that made it through our sieves and traps, hoping to announce the winners tomorrow so they can get shined up for the big reading on Sunday at Macalester. (1:30, in the Chapel). Everyone is invited.
A few poets wrote about lost love, ex-lovers, betrayal, the death of lovers, but almost all of the entrants addressed love in the present tense, including an ode to cheese (“Swiss, Swiss, it’s you I miss,/Oh my Cheddar, you’re even better”), an ode to old hymns (“Tears come. I can’t join in with the congregation./It’s my mother, long ago, humming,/”Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”), to a soldier’s helmet known as a K-pot (“Fragile shell that’s spun from Kevlar thread,/you have one purpose: save my pounding head”), an erotic ode to gardening (“Weeks of dirty foreplay---/fingers deep in you,/the ripe stench of your earthly perfumes/mounting as I keep you wet/and pluck at your musky weeds----climax in produce”). Ode to a Mercedes 240D (“Even though financed to the extreme/you fulfilled my every vehicular dream”), a poem with the lovely title “My Husband Has Been Away on a Business Trip Too Long, a farm love poem (“You proposed to and married me in the cornfield./We’ve had 30 years of thriving yield.”), a number of love poems to cats (“When I opened a cardboard box/you jumped out/cracked open my heart/and planted a flower there”) and also some to dogs (“There is nothing about you I don’t love,/your small barrel chest, your raised ears,/your dark eyes lined in black”). There was a hymn to the sun (“Sol, I know that no matter how my love overflows for you now you are destined to burn me”), and one to Facebook (sort of) (“Sometimes I click/on my page/just so I can see/where it says/you’re Married to Me/and then I click/on your page/because it says/I’m Married to You.” And a poem (“I feel your lusciousness/As the sun caresses your bright, taut skin”) which is about a tomato. And an ode to solitude. Odes to fishing. A love poem to an architect whom the poet has loved from afar for the past year and now she dreams of “dovetail joints for never quarreling/A bridge for holding hands throughout the night./Our base, a poured foundation of respect.” A poem by a woman who was single until she heard on the news about a town in Minnesota full of single men and she placed a personals ad in the town paper and heard from a lonely farmer and met him and married him. All that in one poem.
Some poems were fascinating but we rejected them anyway. Probably we were wrong. The ode to Faulkner (“With hearts as pure as the Catholic Pope’s is,/That’s our people---they call us the Snopeses….With pride buried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa,/I couldn’t leave the county of Yoknapatawpha.”) and the ode to a quantum particle (“My universe would lack completion/if you were not a part of the colloidal whole”) and a poem about Gil Shaham whose violin makes the thin air golden, and the lady in Houston who wrote “The train of fame has missed me/But Billy Collins kissed me”. And there was a touching poem to a friend diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A rousing love poem to the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. A poem to a computer. An ode to books. A poem entitled “Home” (“Winter’s heavy snowfall/cradles the pine log cabin/tucked into the North Woods/a world away from home/Two windows a room apart/face a secluded frozen lake/I gaze toward one vista/my lover sits before the other”). A poem, “Love After 50” that begins “At this age, we’re all secondhand”. A poem, “Reading Keats to My Daughter” (“The sonnet Bright Star was her favorite…./she understood as she sat next to me,/that some who love, love ever out of reach.”)
In other words, there was a lot to admire everywhere we looked, and in the end we settled on the 25 finalists out of the 1100 entries.
Map, Melissa Anderson, Minneapolis
Love Poem, Late in Life, Chet Corey, Bloomington
Anniversary, Kathleen Donkin, Lubec MAINE
Lexiphilia, Julie Excell, Denver CO
Inheritance, Patricia Kelly Hall, Roseville
They Will Appear Lovely In Your Eyes, Jennifer Halling, Leavenworth KS
Shoveling, Ann Harrington, St. Paul
An Iowa Song, Marsha Hayles, Pittsford NY
Kinnickinnic, Michael Hill, Austin TX
Pershing Avenue, 1960, Holly Iglesias, Greenville SC
The Way You Move, Brett Jenkins, St. Paul
Custodian, Maureen Cassidy Jenkins, Carnegie PA
Galaxies, Ken Katzen Columbia MD
New year love, Kristal Leebrick, St. Paul
At Louie Arco’s, Kathleen Novak, Minneapolis
Migration, Nancy-Jean Pement, Thousand Oaks, CA
String, Jessica Lind Peterson, Brooklyn Park
Sonnet (for K B), John Richard, Minneapolis
One Good Thing, Edwin Romond, Wind Gap PA
Full Moon, Almost, Susan Solomon, St. Paul
Parallel Lives, Donna Spector, Warwick NY
Rondeau for My Grandmother, Marjorie Thomsen, Cambridge MA
Sonnet for a sister who was once my best friend, Francine Marie Tolf, Minneapolis
To Carla, Cary Utterberg, Golden Valley
Every Morning, Mark R. Warren, Phoenix AZ
We will come to a decision and let you know as soon as possible.