2010 Porad Award Winners
Penny Harter, Judge
First Place ($100)
blue on blue
“Blue on blue” pulls us up into the sky, or pulls the sky down into us. The verb “taps” gives the poem not only visual but also auditory appeal. Taps are gentle but persistent. Maybe the dragonfly wants out; yet because its wings are blue, it is already merging with the sky. Also, through the skylight, the sky is entering the dragonfly. And if the dragonfly is outside, tapping to get in, it will bring the sky in with it. This poem resonates with the desire for transcendence that we all may feel from time to time.
Second Place ($50)
the shell’s story inside the inside
Here there is a sense of mystery, almost like opening Chinese boxes, making us ask, “What’s the story here? What has left residue in the shell? What is the lineage of the snail—if it is a snail?” The poem spirals as it coils inward to the center of the mystery. It seems to be echoing the old adage that the journey itself is the destination. It also makes us think of putting a shell to the ear to “hear” the ocean’s story. In a way, each of us is like this shell.
Third Place ($25)
The moon rules the tides. Here, the moon is clouded, but still it pulls the sea. The movement in this poem seems to echo the ebb and flow of the tides, and to enter the reciprocal cycles of cloud and sea. Clouds cross the moon, waves move toward shore, and we are pulled into the rhythm of it all.
First Honorable Mention
in an open jar
How nice to find the desert in a jar of spice, perhaps on some winter soup-making evening. This jar is the microcosm holding the macrocosm. And the rain—well, I remember the scents of juniper and sage after rains in Santa Fe. The desert is dry, yet sage grows there. The poem appeals to vision and scent, with scent being the primary sense. It might be a bit stronger, though, without the “the” in the last line: “in an open jar / of sage, the desert / after rain.”
Second Honorable Mention
traveling the creek
The creek runs to the river, the river to the sea—and the mother’s ashes are also on a journey, returning to the source. The fact that the creek bears her name makes this poem even more poignant. Her ashes are merging with the elements, as her soul merges with . . .
Third Honorable Mention
The plums are ripening, and the window—a human artifact—opens to them, and to the ripening of the day. And, of course, the plum color is probably on the dawn horizon. The poem gets us up and out of bed, then pulls us to into the sunrise.
Fourth Honorable Mention
This mouse surprises us, makes us smile—and yet, poor mouse, there is no water in that rain barrel. It’s during a drought, and the mouse, in search of water, is now running in circles, perhaps trapped. This poem offers a unique perspective on drought—or, perhaps, a heat wave.
Fifth Honorable Mention
The bark of the alder returning light to the sky, perhaps even holding the rays of the setting sun, is lovely. It’s a striking image, and I especially like the verb “leans” its light—unique and evocative.
Sixth Honorable Mention
late summer eve—
It’s the end of summer—and the end of the fire, its embers gone white and coming to ash. There is a chill in the air, perhaps, and the Dutch oven is over a campfire. We reach for sweaters as summer tilts toward autumn, savoring the chill; yet, we would hold on to summer’s warmth. And the “white coals on the lid” might even echo moon-glow, that white circle that surrounds the moon in the clear summer night sky.
Michael Dylan Welch