Poetry 99

The winning poets for 2012.

What a fun thing it is to step back from the usual routine and watch the words of poets flow across the pages of the CN&R. Once again, hundreds of you sent in your poetry, and with much expert assistance we’ve whittled down the massive pile of words to a dozen top poems across four age groups and more than twice that many honorable mentions.

For this year’s contest, we’ve also made a couple of changes in the process. First, we added a junior-high division, giving us a total of four age groups: adult, high school (grades 9-12), junior high (grades 6-8) and kids (5th grade and under). And, second, instead of having one expert judge the entries, we have recruited four. Our judging panel for 2012 was the 1078 Gallery Literary Committee, a group of four local writers/educators who organize and host the gallery’s authors’ readings, writing workshops, the annual Summer Reading Series and collaborative art shows between writers and artists with the mission to “support and cultivate local literary arts.”

Meet the Judges. 1078 Gallery Literary Committee (from left): Sarah Pape, Hilary Tellesen, Kathleen McPartland and Jeff Hull.

“We were honored to be asked to read the Poetry 99 submissions,” said judge Sarah Pape, “We paired up to read poems from the different age groups and then judged the adult category collectively. Once we had narrowed our choices, we took turns reading the poems aloud, which helped us listen closely for sound, cadence and image. Ultimately, we were most drawn to poems that pushed past expected metaphors and rhyme, poems that offered a fresh perspective, surprising language and emotional honesty.”

The judges want to encourage everyone, including those who didn’t make the cut, to keep working on your writing. “Poetry can be a daily practice, just like anything worth mastering,” Pape said. “We recommend The Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily as two online places you can go to get a daily dose of poetry.”

A couple of notes on this year’s selections: In the high-school honorable mentions, there was a student from Table Mountain School in Butte County Juvenile Hall who made the cut. This student’s last name has been omitted to protect anonymity.

Also in the high-school category, the second- and third-place winner is judge Pape’s daughter. The CN&R gave the OK for her daughter to enter the contest on the condition that Pape recuse herself from judging the high-school category, which she did. Additionally, author names were removed from poems before being given to the judges.