ChicagoPoetry.com is pleased to announce the Winners of the 2006 Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards for Poetry.
Three distinguished Chicago poets judged the 84 entries and chose three winners and five honorable mentions.
The judges were:
Michael H. Brownstein (author of A Period Of Trees),
Kathy Kubik (author of The Secret Of Ivory Vows),
and Dave Gecic (Publisher of Puddin'head Press).
According to the rules, all poetry entries were judged blindly.
Cash awards are as follows: first place winner will receive $100; second place winner will receive $50; and third place winner will receive $30.
First Place winner is invited to read as a featured guest at the Chicago Poetry Showcase, as part of the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair, on Sunday, June 4, at 3 PM.
First Place winner will receive her own customized page here at ChicagoPoetry.com for one full year.
All winners are invited to appear and read their winning poem at Mission To Mercury: A National Poetry Month celebration at Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave, on Saturday, April 22, 6 until 10 PM.
Winners may pick up their award checks and/or certificates at Mission To Mercury or any time thereafter, or have them delivered by mail.
This year we are including five honorable mentions who will receive award certificates.
The 2006 Winners of the Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards for Poetry are:
FIRST PLACE WINNER: PENNY BLUBAUGH,
for her poem "How to View the World – Instructions"
How to View the World – Instructions
Straddle the moon as you would a horse,
your right leg over, your left leg straight,
and vertebrae by vertebrae
curl your back into the crescent.
Watch for sharp edges.
You may wish to unroll the blanket you've strapped to
your ladder. Remember, you're traveling in space
It may be chilly.
Watch everything and write it down
in the Moleskine notebook you've bought.
When sunrise begins to eat the India
ink of night, repeat the steps
in reverse. You may find you need to dangle
from the ladder's second to last rung.
To ensure landing safely, hold on until
your feet brush the tips of the grass.
For full moons, see Instruction Sheet Two.
SECOND PLACE WINNER: DONNA PUCCIANI,
for her poem "St. Anthony of Padua"
St. Anthony of Padua
Rubbing your goatee, you take up your post,
peering over the rim of a cloud, your brown robes
worn and wrinkled, your rope belt tangled in wind.
You mutter, "A little to the left, signora. No, imbecile!
The left!" And then, you close your deep brown eyes
and catnap, satisfied that a young lady in Barcelona
has located her cigarette lighter in the rear compartment
of her leather handbag. She lights up with a click,
draws in sweet nicotine, and exhales a prayer.
So it goes this week. A rescue team finds a skier
in an avalanche, a taxi driver his keys lost
between seat and gearshift, a nun her medals
down a convent sink in Dublin.
You get tired, I know. Forgetfulness, fatigue,
the daily rush, and the growing incidence of dementia
wrap that spinning planet below in a fog
of frowns, curses, and sighs. Favorite item today:
umbrellas—it seems to be raining everywhere,
from Hong Kong to Beirut. Yesterday: sunglasses,
especially in Australia.
You try to tell them—no need to smoke, drive,
stay dry, or even see. Better to collect oneself
than all the objects in the world. You don't need
that earring dropped on the floor of a bus
in Gujarat. But they insist, so you lean over
your cumulus edge daily, wondering if gravity itself
will ever lose its grip on the little blue-and-green ball
hurtling through space.
How do you tell them, it's the letting go,
not the gathering. But never a moment's ease—
tonight already it's a flashlight in Brazil,
a soldier's last letter to his mother in Iowa,
where it has fallen behind the blue plaid sofa
from her exhausted hand.
An old gentleman from Naples lights a candle
at the foot of your dusty statue in a Brooklyn church.
He is your favorite loser, for he has forgotten
what he is looking for, but still drops in to visit,
gazing from your prophetic plaster eyes to the taper
that simply drips into its red-bubbled cup,
wanting nothing but air, and lacking that,
will snuff itself out in a single whisper,
leaving only the tufted smoke of invisible joy.
THIRD PLACE WINNER: DONNA PECORE,
for her poem "Out"
The room fills with air colored the shade of olives
stuffed with bright pimento.
I can’t breathe.
I don’t know a thing to know about you.
On the window ledge planted vines crawl in
curling round the bed posts.
They form a canopy of life, over my empty bed filled with leaves fall has left.
I weave the vines into a cloak. The blooms are reproduced, embroidered upon my epidermis.
Tattoos erased and faded by season’s reversal.
I enter into the forest floor,
opening the ice box to get a bottle of wine. The fruit of the vine that colored
my feet shades of purple.
A fabulous aged port I freeze into ice cubes that become yellowed tinted windows, through which
I watch you open the jar of manzilla olives. You suck out the bright pimento breath.
You bite into the salty olive. I am
brine bathed in anger and breathless left
when I shut the refrigerator door
after I kick you out.
An honorable mention category was included in this year's contest.
The following five Honorable Mentions were chosen.
HONORABLE MENTION ONE: FRANK MATAGRANO,
for "Song of Myself in a Hotel . . .",
Song of Myself in a Hotel with a View of the Pacific Ocean
When I am closer to sharks
I am closer to God.
The mayor’s wife slept
with another man
in this very hotel. It’s heaven
as a punch line
spoiled in the delivery. I remember
she was called
whore, the year I called her wise.
I saw an orgy. It happens
all the time
here said the concierge,
his mouth an applauding
wind, a meadow with teeth,
the streets littered
touching one another.
I am a historian of hallway conversation.
I know word for word
how a knock-knock joke begins. I am
an expert at doors.
A tourist, the wide-eyed version
of me, spent the day
along the outskirts of the city,
in a stranger’s backyard
with a woman
whose name meant victory
in Latin, the uncut
grass a hammock of clear
light, that place people call
God, a bed housekeeping had
yet to make.
Like a flag, like a child running
around the lobby, I am at my most
beautiful earning my sleep
before bed, touching myself, the body opened
like a reference book
on a desk, say a page from The Way
this is an offshore angler, this is how
you make bearings
sing with the saltwater, this is what you do
in the big wind.
HONORABLE MENTION TWO: CONSTANCE VOGEL,
for her poem "A Pair of Shoes"
A Pair of Shoes
In an alley lined with dumpsters
where only rats want to forage,
stands a pair of shoes –
men's, crow-black and shiny,
slightly creased as if worn only once.
Not discarded on their sides
but upright, as far apart
as the man who wore them
might have stood,
Yet, who, no matter how foolhardy
after a night on the town,
would run shoeless down this gangway
of stones and broken glass?
Not that I abhor the waste,
but the sight of them, like broken birds,
makes me fear
something bad had happened.
Maybe no one is missing,
but someone watching
behind the curtain of a high window,
camera on the sill waiting to shoot
a film noir of the passer-by
who stops, examines the soles,
tries them on and wobbles off like Chaplin.
Someone who looks around first
as if a bomb might go off.
HONORABLE MENTION THREE: JASON FISK,
for his poem "The Rosebud"
I hadn’t seen you
since the day you told
me you were pregnant,
in that cafe. It was
a September day,
filled with a cold fall rain.
I remember thinking
that I could smell the rain
on people as they passed our table.
There was an unopened
rosebud in a simple
glass vase on our table.
What am I going to do?
over and over.
Today we stood in the aisle
between the cards
and the candles
at Target, small talk
our armor. I looked
at your empty belly.
You pulled your jacket closed.
“Well, it sure is good to see you,
we’ll have to get together sometime,”
you lied. I wanted to tell you
that I had learned
in a poem
that the Japanese
prefer the rose bud
to the rose blossom,
but how do you fit
that into conversation?
HONORABLE MENTION FOUR: LORRAINE HARRELL,
for her poem "The Gilded Dream"
The Gilded Dream
Yes, the wind blows terrible here—
But moonlight also leaks between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
Japanese poet (1000)
My heart is a circular ocean of
seawater. Each chamber a private
aquarium descends beneath another.
Thick deposits of marine dust settle
upon a vacuous floor of flames.
I am raw from this wanting;
needing this thing to pull over,
to release its
intimacy with me.
Beneath the shadows I count
the number of cracks the ground blindly endures;
invent names to accompany the familiar trail
of mindless shoes,
encased feet that stab and gnaw the exterior
of my empty torso, an unwelcome slab—unflavored by
the weightlessness of this random cardboard box.
All morning, mother searches the streets for
validation in the face of strangers.
This day my count reaches twenty-five thousand:
as a treat for distance, I practice the tidy simplicity
of transformation. Before long, my memory mocks the
range of my anatomy from skull to femur,
until it's useless dust and water seeps back
into earth's first garden. In America, mother says
that the land is a forest of missteps, that
promises of honey and milk turns its back on children.
The idea of children bathing their tongues in
milk and honey, fills me with the bronze music
of gazelles, so aroused and coated with their single gift of flight.
My eyes become floras adrift in my head—two waterless basins.
O I wish for a milky hill to descend
and unfurl its long white tongue, honey bone of meat
mouth to mouth.
Startle its white carpet of nippled voices,
each lush squeal erotic with hunger.
Float us one way or the other.
In the refuse of my hollow cage, the night burns the longest.
In the damp hissing of hope
I've reached the perfect pitch—
breath and chill—as if an alternating cylinder,
reflective and out of place, like a muffled respirator.
I am the smallest, and five. The others can sell body
parts that older people crave.
Mother says I'm too young—yet.
The world is flat with torn pages of me.
I call forth what's left of my saliva, and
focus upon this voiceless pulp wall of home
till the stew of entrails explodes—reveals
my favorite dream
of sweet fruits and oval potatoes with chicken breasts,
tender enough to swallow whole.
The juice of papaya, mangoes, and strawberries
sting my brow and I must change the game to survive
my nights. If I were good enough, quiet enough,
and less selfish enough, the idea of food would cease
to dominate. Feral, and small as I am, I can will
myself to curl into an airless ball and spin and spin
till the vapors—miasmic, like
an indistinct enzyme
splits a scar against the sky.
Come with me, it'll be our secret.
Upon the mother's return: the world relieved.
HONORABLE MENTION FIVE: JOHN DANDRIDGE,
for his poem "apt. six A"
apt. six A
We lived in a six room, six bath, apartment, six
floors below the biggest movie star in reAmerica6.
It fit in a building that touched buildings touching
other buildings, so all of the windows were kissing.
Machines woke us in the mornings, but only when
we slept. And we didn't meet our neighbours
until they put a note on our door. It read: All your
ranting and laughing has drowned out the guns on
our TV, the sirens outside. It doesn't feel good to
complain. How does it feel to be in a dream?, then got
new neighbours by the end of the week. They
asked us if we were artists. We asked them if they
were human. Then we became friends. They let us
play with their disposable toys. We let them play in
our band. What followed were childish nights
doublespeaking each other's language, intermixing
in circles of sexy suspects, drinking championship
champagne, and wine from the beginning of time.
After living there a year, the movie star
appeared in our scene. It first seemed that he was
seeking envy, till he saw how we were accustomed
to constant luxuries and would only want an auto-
graph if it were art. He told us that he dug our
clothes, and because he perceived one's clothes as
a metaphor, he felt obliged to hip us to the secret
of his success. Then he hid his mouth behind
his collar, and said, "Madness sells. The customers
press play. When I react, they rewind. When there
are those who can't separate fact from fiction,
it is considered to be the audience's fault." He
hooded his eyes in the shadow his hat made on his
face, and whispered, "You don't have to watch, but
if you turn it off, in the end, you'll find the future is
just a recording of the past. If you pay attention, one
of the billions of voices you see screaming is yours."
6 reAmerica-landscape of first ever recorded dream.
Those who have seen it claim to be in it.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2006 WINNERS!
Click here to review the rules of this contest.
Click here to review the 2005 winners.
Click Here to review the 2004 winners.
Announcing The First Show Hosted by C. J. Laity Of The 2006 Season
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Note: The winners of the 2006 Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards for Poetry, sponsored by ChicagoPoetry.com, have been announced