Welcome to the second and last installment of Move Me Monthly's Cash Prize Contest. Yes, you read that correctly. I said last.
When I set out on this journey, at the core, was my love of poetry and an idea to bring the collective together through our connection of one another's stories. The idea of a cash prize contest was born out of the desire to help pay for our website and provide funds to help give back to the community through our 5% Movement, YouTube videos, and other forms of outreach.
It was important to me to provide all participants with detailed feedback. I thought that by having a guest judge, the emotional burden of selecting a winner would be alleviated. What I have found, though, is that after reading entry after entry, it's so incredibly hard to stand behind selecting one winner, when I see the dedication, the time, and the value in every write. My soul aligns with bringing the community together, not separating one another through competition. Thus, I choose to honor myself in listening to my soul and am working on something much more inclusive and community-oriented for our future that will be announced soon.
On that note, let's get to who will be taking home that incredibly desired $100 prize, as selected by our special guest judge, Zach J. Payne! There are no words to express how grateful I am for Zach's support this time around. He met with me over a Zoom call to discuss thoughts about the first round of finalists, and then he took the time to write each finalist a note about his thoughts on their work. It was awesome to connect with someone else who was as passionate about poetry as I am.
All of the finalists selected were Poetry Battle participants, which is amazing because we had quite a few names enter that I didn't recognize. This goes to show you that we aren't the only ones who think we are home to some of the greatest poets in the world!
Let's celebrate some awesome poetry!
The honorable mentions are as follows:
The Poet by Sharon Toman:
Crafter of words, our souls entwined
Behold my heart, bewitch my mind
Whisper with ambrosial tongue
Caressing verse to writhe among
Utterance buttered on freckled arms
The gilding of salacious charms
Cocoon my limbs in silken rhyme
While tracing sonnets down my spine
Caesura breath hungers to speak
Metered movements stir the weak
Words that sear on fervid skin
Until ink spills prurient sin
Zach wrote: "This is just a ditty, but for a poem with rhyme this strong and immediate, you don't want something that goes on too long. It's powerful, and the imagery is strong, and the emotion behind it even stronger. All of us poets are heirs to a certain magic, and I felt it in this verse."
Look at that language! There's no doubt Sharon has a way with words! She manages to grab us with her first line and hold our attention as she weaves her way through figurative language to move not only our hearts, but our poetic souls.
Behind Me Are My Shadows by Annie Bagnall:
We are like leaves that cling to our shadows
Deep in your eyes the lies of yesterday
Now through my soul and I a cold wind blows
Our dreams slip imperceptibly away
Carried by ghosts in songs of our sorrows
Soft like whispers dying with the dark day
My pain unseen in the brightness of day
Lightless I walk the bridge of your shadows
Silence weaves threads of ink through my sorrows
Deeply painted into our yesterday
Never again to be hidden away
Now through my soul and I a sad wind blows
Now through my soul and I a blue wind blows
Melancholy lingers from night to day
With my flowers fading into shadows
Nothing to say I hide myself away
Trading tomorrows for one yesterday
My heart drowning in waves of our sorrows
Lost deep in the ripples of our sorrows
Now through my soul and I a black wind blows
Tomorrow’s songs now lost to yesterday
Broken, love’s last exhales enshroud the day
All that we knew now just dust and shadows
I see your face my tears give me away
As I listen to the hours slip away
My heart fills with lilies for my sorrows
How they flourish in the dark and shadows
Now through my soul and I a soft wind blows
The tides of loss overwhelm me this day
The now final vestige of yesterday
Our tomorrows have become our yesterday
My candle is burning slowly away
With the dying breath of our final day
Nightingales sing lamenting our sorrows
Now through my soul and I a wind of loss blows
In the end behind me are my shadows
This day lost in echoes of yesterday
My sorrows and I long to drift away
In my shadows not a breath of wind blows
Zach wrote: "Depression and sadness are such a difficult place to be in. In my experience, they seem to be reflexive, to sort of fold around me, and any thoughts I have are usually bounced back, reframed by that sadness and grief into more sadness and grief -- often said with the same words. So naturally, I think the Sestina is a great form for sharing those experiences -- the repetition makes it feel all the more real."
If you haven't heard of a Sestina, you're in for a treat! We'll add it to our list of forms to try on: MMTeachMeTuesday. There were quite a few form poetry entries and yet Annie still managed to make it as a finalist. Part of the reason is her ability to connect with our emotions and write form poetry that doesn't feel like it's form.
Runner-up: Once Upon a Lie by Darryl Lovie:
Once upon a lie
In the land of failed promise
A lonely child cried
To a sea of solace
As dull unicorns
With matted manes
And stunted horns
Are born lame
Once upon a lie
All the lullabies died
At her bedside
Dirty great flies feast
On Teddy Bears’ Eyes
Run cold and slow in
A constant flow
On the filthy cheeks
Of the lost
And the weak
Who pay the cost
Here she roams
On pungent grass
A princess alone
Treading tobacco ash
Under languid armed bridges
As knights joust and spoil
In deepest of ditches
With needles and foil
Aside crayoned castles
Where poisoned apples
Infect in regret
As the lies of the Suits
Bear no fruit
And this Kingdom of Pain
Is her future domain
Once upon a lie
All the lullabies died
At her bedside
She cried and she cried
Nowhere to hide
Zach stated: "This made the fantasist in me shrivel up, just a little bit. That said, I think that was exactly the poet's intent--to show us the dark side of all the princes and castles and unicorns that we loved when we were little, and that some of us still love in our stories. And it's done brilliantly well."
For me, this poem hit incredibly hard and blew me away with its use of figurative language and metaphors!
And now without further ado, the winner is...
THE WINNER OF MOVE ME MONTHLY, VOL 2:
Our second and last winner of Move Me Monthly and the $100 cash prize was chosen for her down-to-earth style, emotional relatability, and ability to connect with others through the power of her words. Please congratulate Julee Balko as your official winner!
Untangled by Julee Balko:
I try to tie up these moments with string.
But they disappear too quickly before
I can place a tight bow.
Like your childhood slips away.
It’s measured in laundry piles,
I thought it would be different.
That I would be different.
But I’m too tired to make cookies
And your sister is too angry to be
And this family is everything I got.
I try to grab your hand and hold it.
I want to say remember this child.
This moment when you don’t pull away
But come closer.
My whole heart hangs on this
When darkness fades and
You and me
Me and you
You and me
Until it becomes
You versus me
Zach's response: "For Move Me Poetry, this is the poem that definitely moved me. I felt it so painfully, and the words and the feelings resonated with me. I imagine that they'll resonate with most readers as well -- the language is down-to-earth, and the emotions are clear and utterly aching."
Julee has such an incredible way of bringing you into her world and making it your world too. We feel the ache, the struggle, and the desire to connect. She truly embodies the ability to create empathy in her readers.
Thank you to everyone who participated! Please congratulate our winner and the honorable mentions. Most of all, thank you for being part of this incredible journey of souls uniting in our collective love of poetry! I couldn't be prouder to know you!