Saturday, April 02, 2005

poetry contests

Poetry contests are many and varied. Some have gained a bad reputation, with questionable tactics, like declaring everyone a winner and then including all those winning poems in books which each poet will then supposedly want to buy as proof of their published state.

Others are legit.

One I’ve entered several times is the Utmost Christian Poetry Contest sponsored by Utmost Christian Writers. It’s thoroughly reputable and the competition is always stiff (I’ve only ever placed with an honorable mention–and I’m plenty pleased with that!).

Last year’s winning poem was by my friend and fellow-Canadian Jan Wood. She’s given me permission to post it here. I still get shivers every time I read it – a tour de force of political comment and personal conviction.

In a Civilized Society an Adulteress Isn’t Stoned

She is taken inside the city gates
to a cavern of the hallowed
and fixed, legally and properly
under rubber-glove treatment
her fruit-stone is removed
——a pip, flesh and juice-slippery
that will never be rocked to sleep
sterilized-silence decrees
its beginning and end
will not be engraved.


She is granted three wishes
——‘the’ pill or needle——a widened license to practice
——a crypt for her label and shame
rejection makes its gravel bed
in a pelvic nest below her heart
stone-faced she turns from newborn cry
broken by lovers ‘not-interested’
——skipped gemstones leave bare fingers
and widening ripples on amniotic waters.


She is stonewalled by her sisters
with fruit in the melons of their belly
HIV and genetic warts not being table conversation
nor the trade she plies
with their bed-rocked spouses
mineral deposits pour down her legs
in a monthly cycle of no sons
her womb a marketplace
of peril and liquidation.
sorrow leaves through her crevices

molten lava erupts and scalds
she hardens merciless,
an igneous solid
her metamorphic meat
a cold marble slab

She is the granite weight
of a society
that prides itself on being
civilized; beyond the age of stoning.

Copyright ©2004 by Jan Wood

The results of this year's contest have been announced and are here.

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