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Posted by : cj on Sunday, April 15, 2007 - 07:12 PM
Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines .
Announcing The Winners Of

ChicagoPoetry.com is pleased to announce the Winners of the
2007 Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards for Poetry.

Three distinguished Chicago poets judged the 84 entries
and chose three winners and five honorable mentions.


Jared Smith (author of Lake Michigan and Other Poems),

Larry Winfield (author of Wicker Park Sonata),

and Jacqui Wolk (well-known Chicago performance poet).

According to the rules, all poetry entries were judged blindly.

Cash awards are as follows:
first place winner will receive $200;
second place winner will receive $100;
and third place winner will receive $50.

In addition to cash awards:

First Place winner is invited to read the winning poem as a surprise guest at
the Chicago Poetry Showcase, as part of the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair,
on Sunday, June 10, 3 - 5 PM.

First Place winner will receive his own customized page
here at ChicagoPoetry.com for one full year.

Top three winners are invited to appear and read their winning poem
at The Fourth Annual National Poetry Month Celebration at Mercury Cafe,
1505 W. Chicago Ave, on Saturday, April 28, 6 until 9 PM.

Winners may pick up their award checks and/or certificates at the
National Poetry Month Celebration or any time thereafter,
or have them delivered by mail.

This year we are including five honorable mentions.

The 2007 Winners of the Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards for Poetry are:


for his poem "Love Letter to My Biographer"

Love Letter to My Biographer

I am bringing a piece of paper, a pen and a carrier
pigeon with me so you can wire an eye-witness
account and launch it into the night
like fortune's goat: a set of false teeth

soaking in a glass, the Jonah in my belly
and a heart ordered from a catalogue
of hand-me-downs. Think of the mouth as a formula
perched in the sky, a weathered loon wide open

in the fuddled weeds, and think of the bruise
along my back as a wall through Berlin. See
that trail in the snow and the uncomfortable shoes:
that's me dancing through a dog year, that's me

taking the long way here, a pheasant
shrinking away into bones, a rigid complication
outlined in a self-help book, a blossom ready
to fall from a cherry tree along a lamp-lit boulevard.




A is for Athena biding her time in Zeus' dome
B is for the black spot lurking in your breast,
    awaiting the Columbus of your fingers
C is for Joan Crawford in heaven, ensconced in a limousine of clouds
D is for Death's job application, filed away in a drawer in our guts
E is for the evaporated hair of elderly water sprites
F is for the Frank family, huddled in the attic of evil
G is for God's twin sister, who wandered off at birth
H is for Jimmy Hoffa, barking orders from his bed beneath the turnpike
I is for the invisible ink of unsent blackmail letters
J is for Judge Crater
K is for the kabuki dance of souls escaping from bodies
L is for lost Atlantis with its empty streets of salt
    and its nightclubs where phantoms canoodle
M is for Miss Microscopic America, amoebic beauty queen
N is for nothing
O is for the onions of doubt taking root in the mind's back forty
P is for the Prince of Amnesia, whom no one remembers seeing
Q is for the quiet little room at the top of the tornado's raging staircase
R is for the radiation of Chernobyl, draping its withered limbs
    across the planet
S is for the smallest aspidistra in the world,
    sprouting shyly from the head of a pin
T is for the torsos of icebergs
U is for the underwear of ghosts
V is for the very last digit of pi, under wraps in a cubbyhole in Chinatown
W is for the welcoming committee in Davy Jones's locker
X is for the x-rays of summer's broken back
    discarded in the wastebin of winter
Y was for you when I needed you
Z is for Zeus in the mood for love,
    biding his thunderous time inside a swan


for her poem "IRAQ",

(inspired by a photo in the New York Times - 2004 - of a
young Iraqi girl standing, alone, in her battered home)

                                                                                                      Her window has bars
                                                                                                            to keep her safe.

                                                                                                          The glass is gone
                                                                                       blown away
              with half the house and its inhabitants.

                                          Those bars are shaped like obelisks,
                                          sword shafts, temple peaks,
                                          or the World Trade Center
                                          of which she heard
                                          (though only seven at the time) and saw
                                          flaming images on TV
                                          (back when they had electricity)
                                          before the regime
                                          came crashing down in Firdos Square
                                          burned stinging splinters in her eyes

                                          into her crumbling walls.

She could jump
                      if the bars didn’t restrain her
                                                     to peace
                                    in heaven
                  with Allah.

                      She’d like to see her father and brothers again
                               She’d like to clear her mother’s eyes.

                                                               But hers is a different sacrifice.

An honorable mention category was included in this year's contest.
The following five Honorable Mentions were chosen.


for her poem "Any Winter Saturday Night in Chicago",

Any Winter Saturday Night in Chicago

                One of the things I believe happens when poets
                bear witness to historical events is that everyone
                they tell also becomes responsible for what they
                have heard and what they know.
                        --Carolyn Forche

The siren’s scrape of snow shovel
invades the air’s nocturnal nap.
I am an involuntary cape slaughtered
in the cross words of winter’s wind.
Must the act of living
fill the air with so much noise?
airplane’s melting metal against sky
dragging along everything earth’s
ever spilled. Sediment attached and
detached from its arrogant, indiscriminate wings.
Wings that I will never grow from here.
A stream of gunshots wails its nasty persistent cough,
menacing as a baying wolf. My hunger does not
escape into temporary tiny metallic capsules of relief.
This thing crisscrosses its unyielding tentacles through every atom of me.
I was never a spoiled child. I swim where I can.
I know the major food groups of the world: corn, rice and wheat.
I am limited by this knowledge. The land in my soul is arid,
my trickles of waste—a polluted organic fertilizer. This, for the
world I produce willingly.
For supper, I overdose from the tactile, oral, sound—of bile.
Until—the whistles and honks of a fire engines’ mission
drowns out this perfect day,
and I return drunk with the misery of too little, nothing, never.


for her poem "November Storm"

November Storm

Tonight thunder turns to snow.
Lightning sprays every memory of fireflies
into the autumn night, a summer prank gone awry.
Sleet tips the edge of rain,
and just as I think, Let's get on with it,
nostalgia fashions a sigh from the song of gnats,
a rogue mosquito in the ear, honeybees in lavender.

A gust rears up from the northeast,
as though bounding back over the lake
to gather twisted branches in its mouth.

I lie back, listen to the night
raging blind outside the window, imagine
the berries on the crab trees shining crimson
in the dark, and dream dead hollyhocks clinging
to a fallen trellis. Tomorrow when I wake,
the roof will be glazed with pale fronds of winter.

Years ago, an early blizzard
blew Thanksgiving into our bed, stranding us
hot among the blankets, our bodies
mounded like drifts, a cornucopia of skin,
before matrimony and work and dying parents
bore us into age on the bier of thirty winters.

Old age softens like ripe fruit on the bitter twigs,
corruptible as the river-lit skyline
on which we hung our innocence.
Look. A midwest cloud brims the torrent
of tonight's freak storm, soon to be stilled
into something like snow.


(of Whittier, California),

for his poem "Ballad of the Apocalypse Bar"

Ballad of the Apocalypse Bar

A gas-money gig, we could tell by the car
Abandoned in front of the joint.
The sign was half lit – Apocalypse Bar
As it swung by a thread with a finger to point
‘Round the back down the alley.
The end wasn’t far.

We set up our gear, nobody was there.
It was hard to imagine what kind of a soul
Would come to a place so dark and obscure.
The owner called Preacher seemed not to care;
He says in monotonous tone “They’ll be here.”

Each one alone, the crowd wandered in;
The losers, the failures, the spiritually infirmed,
In suits and in rags at each table confirmed
That hitting the wall brings you into communion;
The end of the road is a family reunion

What do you play to a house of despair,
Who long ago came to the end of their rope?
“Let ‘em take you to where they have been;
Let the music begin. Abandon all hope.”

Led by the stories they told in their eyes
We followed a groove through the valley of death.
‘Till this strange congregation who lived at the end
Led way beyond our ultimate breath.

We were raised from the floor feeling high and amazed.
The house was still silent – no applause coming through.
Some souls affirmated through a spiritual haze; but
Nobody left.
They hung on like the blues.

We called out to Preacher from up on the stand,
“We gave what they wanted, ‘carried them through.”
Preacher said “No, you don’t get a hand.
“You gave nothing to them,
They just gave it to you.”



for his poem "Stieglitz"


in his famous photo
of wife Georgia O’Keefe
showcases her hand—
subtle-curved blend
of convex and concave,
mutli-shaped as frost
on a windowpane,
with hidden side,
ridged knuckles
gleaming tendons
grasping extending
like an animal alive.
Webbed over the heart
the hand intones
vulnerability, strength
and sense of essential self.

This the hand that paints
vaginal flower petals,
abstracts and landscapes
of boldshape and colorbright
that reach behind the viewer’s eyes;
this the hand that splashes lovetouch
across Steiglitz’ body, naked
with the passion of art
and the wonder of love.
The hand,
so complex, so expressive—
so undeniably human.

But all the guys
stare at her boobs.


(of Chicago, Illinois),

for her poem "Nocturnal Entomology"

Nocturnal Entomology
after a week of internet dating

A fragile figure on the pavement stops
our walking. No frantic scurrier, the beetle
picks his steps with care – methodically lifts
and lowers each articulated leg,
like a record player’s needle seeking
the proper groove. A pause –
a baffled moment on the edge –

and he strikes out into grass, the polished plate
of his back throwing the streetlight toward us.
Inches away, dark blades shift, betraying
a second tentative traveler. “They’re trying
to find each other,” Libby laughs, although
their courses seem unlikely to converge.

More movement in the grass; our eyes adjust
to make out six – no, seven – beetle-backs,
blindly struggling with the thick lawn
whose grasses yield just enough to gently
recoil and then press them backwards. We blink
and see more – a stoic, purposeful infestation.

Startled, we stand upright and step back –
turn and walk quickly away, watching only
the sidewalk ahead – cool, arrow-straight and vacant.


Click here to review the rules of this contest.

Click here to review the 2006 winners..

Click here to review the 2005 winners.

Click Here to review the 2004 winners.

Come to the National Poetry Month Celebration / Award Ceremony

National Poetry Month Celebration, Saturday April 28, 6 – 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave., free.

FEATURING: Erika Mikkalo, Mike Puican, David Gecic, Laurie Slicer, Lara Unnerstall, LaRaie Zimm, Ruan Wright, Buddha309, Jose Bono, Larry O. Dean, Ominiphonic, Sandy Goldsmith, Danette TM Velez, Andrea Change, Dina Stengel, Pamela Miller, Kevin Blanchard, Charlotte Hart, Somara Zwick, Dave Donovan, Jacqui Wolk, Charlie Newman, Michael Brownstein, Robert Lawrence, Margie Mack, Donna Pecore, Kathy Kubik, Steven Hammond, Jacqueline Harris and the winners of the Frieda Stein Fenster Awards.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. ChicagoPoetry.com needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help: Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by ChicagoPoetry.com Press.


ChicagoPoetry.com Is Proud To Present

Award Ceremony Info: Saturday, April 28, 6 to 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.
Deadline has been extended to February 26, 2007.
This will be the final extension to the deadline.

We Are Now Accepting Entries Into:

The Fourth Annual Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards For Poetry,
sponsored by ChicagoPoetry.com.


* Three distinguished Chicago poets will judge all entries to find the poems they feel demonstrate the highest quality of writing, are the most original, and reflect the future of poetry in the new millennium. Entries will be judged blindly. The judges for the 2007 contest will be:


Jared Smith is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Lake Michigan And Other Poems (Puddin'head Press, 2005) and Walking The Perimeters of the Plate Glass Window Factory (Birch Brook Press, 2001). His poetry, essays, and literary criticism have appeared hundreds of times in literary journals over the past 30 years. His work has also been adapted to stage in New York and Chicago. A CD of his work, Seven Minutes Before The Bombs Drop, debuted this spring at Number 11 on Rhapsody.com's top 200 list for Spoken Word. Jared Smith is a Member of the Advisory Board of The New York Quarterly Literary Foundation, Poetry Editor of Colorado's Trail & Timberline magazine, immediate past President of Poets & Patrons, and a member of The Academy of American Poets, and Illinois State Poetry Society.


Jacqui Wolk has a thirteen-plus year long history of performing original poetry, spoken word and monologues in the Chicagoland area, including features at a wide range of venues in the Chicago Poetry Scene, such as: the Hot House, Lower Links, Café Voltaire, the Skokie Public Library, and the Guild Complex. Her open mic and featured performer series, The New Liquid Poetry Show, ran at the Logan Beach Coffeehouse, the Kill the Poets and Too Far West cafes throughout the early to mid-1990s. The numerous group shows in which Jacqui Wolk's poetry has been highlighted include: Thax After Dark, Around the Coyote, the Bucktown Arts Festival, Crossroads at the South Shore Cultural Center, the Chicago Public Library, Beach Poets, Night of the Living Poets, Poets Against the War, and Puddin’Head Press. Her work has been published in several local independent publications including the Lumpen Times.


Larry Winfield attended his first poetry reading at Weeds in 1990, and has been an active published performance poet ever since. He has hosted open mics and featured at numerous venues and festivals. Larry Winfield organized the protest poetry reading at the ' 96 Democratic Convention. He also hosted a weekly poetry and jazz radio show. Winfield is the author of several books and audio CDs of poetry, and he has published the online / print zines Liquid Glyph and City Table Review. He has performed his own poetry in Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, NY, LA and SF, with ensemble groups Brothers in Verse, and with the many versions of his poetry band Brass Orchid. Larry Winfield currently lives in L A, where he produces the podcasts "Sundown Lounge" & "The Patio."

Previous judges have included Dave Gecic, Kathy Kubik, Michael H. Brownstein, Beatriz Badikian, David Hernandez of StreetSoundz, Al DeGenova, Pamela Miller, Michael Watson and Andrea Change.

(This year we have doubled the previous year's cash prizes.)

First Prize:

* The first prize winner will receive $200 and an Award Certificate

* The first place winner will also receive a featured reading during a super cool 2007 ChicagoPoetry.com sponsored event (the award ceremony). The award ceremony will take place during ChicagoPoetry.com's fourth annual National Poetry Month celebration in April, 2007. Award Ceremony Info: Saturday, April 28, 6 to 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.

Click here for some images from the 2006 super cool award ceremony at Mercury Cafe.

Click here for some images from the 2005 super cool award ceremony at Beat Kitchen.

Click here for some images from the 2004 super cool award ceremony at Chopin Theater.

This will be another great opportunity for the winner of this prestigious contest to be put into the spotlight.

* The first place winner will also receive publication of the winning poem (along with the author's photo, biography and / or contact information) on winning poet's own page at ChicagoPoetry.com, including a personalized link to that page which will be clearly visible on the home-page, to appear for one year, and thereafter to be permanently archived at the site. This valuable advertising will help to introduce the winning poet to other important people in the poetry community.

Click here to review the 2006 winner's personal page.

Click here to review the 2005 winner's personal page.

Click here to review the 2004 winner's personal page.

Second Prize:

* The second place runner up will receive $100, an Award Certificate, publication of the winning poem at ChicagoPoetry.com, and the opportunity to read as a featured guest at the award ceremony. Award Ceremony Info: Saturday, April 28, 6 to 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.

Third Prize:

* Third place runner up will receive $50, an Award Certificate, publication of the winning poem at ChicagoPoetry.com, and the opportunity to read as a featured guest at the award ceremony. Award Ceremony Info: Saturday, April 28, 6 to 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.


* All poets are welcome to enter this contest, regardless of writing style or geographic location.

* Individual poems should not exceed four typed pages.

* Poetry must be in English; dialect and bi-lingual poems will also be considered, as long as English is the primary language used.

* This contest is open to both published and non-published poets. Previously published poems will be considered for this contest. We are simply looking to find the three best poems out of all entries.

* Winning poets will be invited to (but not required to) read during the award ceremony portion of ChicagoPoetry.com's 2007 National Poetry Month Celebration. Award Ceremony Info: Saturday, April 28, 6 to 9 PM, Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave.


To enter by U.S. Postal Service see instructions below

The easiest way to enter this contest is by e-mail. When you enter by e-mail, there is no chance of your submission getting lost in the mail, and we use PayPal, a very secure online credit card processing company.

* Poems entered into this contest by e-mail MUST be submitted as a microsoft word attachment. If you can't do this, follow the instructions below and send your entry by mail. DO NOT submit poetry in the body of your e-mail, as the form of your poetry will be lost. If you have questions about what this means, please contact us at chicagopoetry@chicagopoetry.com.

*Poet's name SHOULD NOT appear in attachment on page(s) of poetry; however you may title the entire attachment with your name (last name, first name).

* A cover letter containing the poet's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and the TITLE(S) OF THE POEM(S), must accompany your submission (title this attachment "cover letter").

* If you are following these instructions correctly, you will be sending one email containing two attachments: one with your poetry, one with your cover letter containing all your vital information.

* Submissions can be sent to chicagopoetry@chicagopoetry.com.

* At the time of making your submission, you can use THIS CREDIT CARD LINK to pay the entry fee by credit card, debit card or e-check.

The entry fee is $10 per poem. Make sure you enter the proper amount when using the above credit card link. If you are entering three poems, fill in the amount as $30. To avoid confusion, send your entry fee and submissions at the same time, and include, in the body of the email that contains your poetry, a short note letting us know that you have made or are about to make your credit card payment.

Direct your questions to chicagopoetry@chicagopoetry.com.

You will be notified by email of the results of the contest.


We certainly do accept entries by US Postal Service or other delivery methods.

* Poems entered into this contest by mail must be typewritten (ink jet, laser or other printers are okay) on 8 1/2 x 11 white paper. Please use a plain, standard, black font; no cursive or fancy fonts please.

* Poet's name SHOULD NOT appear on page(s) of poetry.

* Submit four (4) copies of each poem when submitting by mail.

* A cover letter containing the poet's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and the TITLE(S) OF THE POEM(S), must accompany your entry.

* The entry fee is $10 per poem. Make sure you include the $10 (per poem) entry fee in your envelope. Example: if you are entering 3 poems, the entry fee is $30. Entry fee should be in the form of a check or money order made out payable to C. J. Laity.

* Poems and entry fee must be mailed (postage paid) to:

Poetry Contest
c/o CJ Laity
3345 N. Marshfield #301
Chicago, IL 60657

* Please include a self addressed stamped envelope if you would like to be notified by mail of the results of the contest. Otherwise, you will be notified by email of the results of the contest.


* Entry fee: $10 per poem. Please send entry fee in the form of a check or money order made out to C. J. Laity or use THIS LINK to pay by credit card or e-check.

All entry fees will be considered gifts to help benefit ChicagoPoetry.com, to help fund the prize money as well as the promotion for the winning poets' featured presentation at the award ceremony.

* Poets may submit more than one poem for consideration (don't forget to send four copies of each poem if submitting by mail). Each submission must be accompanied by a $10 entry fee. If you are submittIing more than one poem in a single envelope, you can make the entry fee check out for the total ($20 for two poems, $30 for three poems, $50 for five poems, for example). There is no limit as to how many poems may be submitted; each poem will be given equal consideration, and all poems will be judged blindly.


* The poem(s), along with entry fee(s), should be mailed to:

Poetry Contest
c/o CJ Laity
3345 N. Marshfield #301
Chicago, IL 60657

or if being sent by e-mail


* All entries must be received by February 26, 2007.



* Winners will be announced April, 2007.

** ChicagoPoetry.com reserves the right to extend the deadline, depending on the details of the award ceremony. In the case of such extension, new deadline date and new announcement of winners date will be clearly posted on this page.

***First place winners may not enter contest again as a contestant for two years. Second and third place winners and honorable mentions (if any) may enter the contest again the following year.


Frieda Stein FensterOver 20 years ago, in 1984, the year Letter eX Poetry News Magazine was being conceived at Columbia College, only a few blocks away another Chicago publishing legacy died. 77-year-old Frieda Stein Fenster (owner of Stein Books, which was located at 526 S. State Street, and which was established by her father Max Stein in Chicago in the year 1886) was strangled to death and left in the storage room of her bookstore. Within days after her death, her five story downtown building (the one she refused to sell to the pushy developers who were pressuring her) was mysteriously demolished and hauled away with the entire inventory, and it was immediately replaced by a parking lot. The legacy of Stein Publishing, which published nearly 100 titles in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, vanished from the face of the earth without a question asked. I am one of the few people alive who remembers Frieda Stein Fenster, an unsung hero who lived her entire life in downtown Chicago, publishing and selling books, from the time she took over her father's paperback mail order department when she was in highschool, until her father's piece of downtown property was demolished after her senseless murder.

It is with this memory Letter eX / ChicagoPoetry.com established The Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Award for Poetry. Now in its fourth year, this contest and its exciting award ceremony have quickly become one of the most anticipated events in Chicago.

The Chicago Sun Times called the Frieda Stein Fenster Award Ceremony "One of the biggest galas of" National Poetry Month.

--C. J. Laity

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Note: Here are the winners of the Fourth Annual Frieda Stein Fenster Awards for Poetry, sponsored by ChicagoPoetry.com.

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Order a book
The Ultimate Chicago Poetry Anthology
Clever Gretel by Jennifer Dotson
JOMP 15 Is Here
Postcards from Poland by Joseph Kuhn Carey
Journal of Modern Poetry 16
Vape Mania
Jomp 17
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· Buy JOMP 18
· Buy JOMP 19
· Buy JOMP 20
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  Poetry Publishing
Chicago Poetry Press publishes the highest quality poetry in beautiful, perfect bound editions. We rely on your continued support to operate, because we are not funded by any corporation, foundation, government agency or university. You can always contact
CJ Laity at Publisher@ ChicagoPoetry.com.
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