Sacramento Poetry Contest Winners read from their works on Monday April 9, 2007
Do Gentry started the evening off and read “The Auction,” “Mirage,” and ”Travel Diary.”
Francis Kakugawa read “Sansei Woman”
I am generations of women
Looking in at layers of silk kimonos,
Muffled giggles, koto movements,
Knowing they can only be
Mere images of desire.
I am generations of women
Waiting to be dragonfly wings,
A maple leaf, spiraling snowflake,
A cherry blossom,
Released and detached from
Generations of cultural clasps.
I am generations of women,
Suppressed in thin yukata
Stuck ankle deep in rice fields,
Scarecrows on wooden stakes.
Denied, yet desiring wantonness
Beneath layers of silk.
I am woman,
Tom Goff read Independence Trail “Watercolors at Negro Bar” and “To an Afflicted one”
Barbara Jennings-Link read “Montana Wheat Field”
Theresa McCourt read “Along the Canal”
Then Julia Connor, the judge for the contest, talked about the selection process. She said it was the 4th one she has judged in the last 18 months. Upon first reading Connor said she made notes to myself about what was commendable in each piece. then she wondered whether she should just “total” the commendations. this seemed too formulaic to her, and poetry shouldn’t be formulaic. One of the big questions that nags her is what do you do with a largely narrative work vs. one that is not so narrative. Then one looks for jewels. But Connor said she didn’t want all rubies and diamonds. She was looking for different kinds of jewels. She was looking for a poem that said something very briefly, but said it completely. Paraphrasing Pound, Connor stated that poetry condenses things in our mind the way dreams do. The significance is built in the poem as opposed to being merely discursive in addition to the poem. This is what Cathleen Williams’s “Ferry” epitomized.
In choosing runner-up Marie Reynolds’s “Offseason” Connor said it used extremely adroit enjambment so that one line suspends itself until it is resolved in the next line. It tells a story, but it doesn’t say too much. Connor stated that of 4 recent contests that she judged, this one was the most difficult. That was a good sign for Sacramento Poetry, where there is a sound voice but also a diverse one. Connor was quick to note though that poetry is not competitive; it is inclusive. She added, “Try to leave out the parts of yourself that you have problems with, and you will defeat your work.”A poet should probably always put “One dark secret. One obsession. One thing of which I am ashamed” on the CV . And in the land of poetry one gets the job anyway.
Marie Reynolds then read “Offseason”
Cathleen Williams ended the evening with “Ferry” and “The State of California”