In April, Sigma Tau Delta Iota Chi hosted their first-ever Poetry contest judged by Patty Seyburn, the award winning poet of such works as: Hilarity (2009), Mechanical Cluster (2002), and the upcoming Perfecta (2014) from What Books Press. We received a number of poems by a number of amazing writers and are thrilled at the level of work and unwavering support shown by the CSUN community.
So, without further ado, please help me in congratulating our winners!!!
Justin La Torre for “Unrequited Canyons”
Eric Barnhart for “I made you with these two”
Cody Deitz for “Ritual”
Trista Payte for “Our Lady of Perpetual Deferral”
All four writers will be offered the opportunity to read with Patty Seyburn at a Sigma Tau Delta event scheduled for next semester (tentatively scheduled for October 2014).
All selected poems will be acknowledged in the Fall 2014 edition of The Northridge Review.
Along with simply selecting the poems, Patty Seyburn graciously offered some insightful reasoning behind her selections.
“Unrequited Canyons” by Justin La Torre
“Unrequited Canyons” functions as an apostrophe to a state. Since a state cannot hear a poem, the reader gathers from this poem, which may fall into the category of “poems of place,” the complexity of a landscape that we know well and absorb into the way we think and move even after leaving. Bachelard talks about how the initial home impresses itself on the psyche. For this poet, the place contains a diversity of memory and impression, the sense of belonging and estrangement, birth and no small dose of mortality. The place’s immanence is palpable, and the sense of obligation that the poet feels toward his/her history is handled with grace, and a subtle emotional tenor. “Unrequited” implies a lack of reciprocity of affection, but the poem assays otherwise, and captures what it means to have a home to return to – no longer a common state.
“I made you with these two” by Eric Barnhart
The poem, “I made you with these two” (after Ed Skoog, whom I like quite a bit), engages the subject of language, which brackets the poem. In between, the poet interrogates the body for answers, as well as what would appear the difficulty of sand, which functions much as language: all slippage and residue, breaking down and accrual. The poet’s use of line break and stanza reflects a strong ear for pacing and the demands of breath, allowing images to stand alone and carry their weight. The excision of certain punctuation within and at the end of lines is balanced by the efficiency of these stanzaic “containers.” This poem feels both abstract and grounded, each strategy threatening dominance, then being reigned in by the other. The creative act described in the poem ultimately speaks before it disappears, but the fact of language remains even in the ethereal world.
“Ritual” by Cody Deitz
“Ritual” begins where another poem by this author, “The Trick with Loss,” leaves off (they should follow one another in the poet’s collection). The energy that threatens to leach from “…Loss” infuses the couplets of “Ritual,” as the poet wisely looks to sensory detail and evocative image. There’s a “trick” in this poem, too – disappearing – but the poet refuses to allow the other the abandon his/her landscape, though diminishment is threatened. The subject-matter of this poem, the addiction, is handled without sentimentality, as the poet does her/his best to be the objective observer, while asking the necessary questions. The pull of “the uncontrollable” (what Shelley calls the west wind, a great force of nature), becomes emblematized by the desert, another great force, and the poem’s conclusion, which nods to the character’s self-effacement and self-abasement, reveals itself subtly, but with great resonance.
“Our Lady of Perpetual Deferral” by Trista Payte:
The winning poem is “Our Lady of Perpetual Deferral.” The first indication that this would be my favorite was how many times I went back to “Our Lady…,” a title that speaks to the lexicon of faith, while referencing mortality (not too far afield) and the human propensity for delay, or dodging of responsibility. The duality, or otherness, contained within the poem, is clearly articulated, the reader not given to floundering for who is speaking at the sacrifice of meaning. While the text sprawls across the page, deftly (even, with elegance), the poem nods to a poetic inheritance: the famous mandrake of John Donne, “…Get a child with mandrake root.”
The use of white space accompanied by couplets, tercets and the occasional lone long line, creates a compelling pace, one which denies the reader certainty as she is not allowed a steady breath. It is not easy to write a poem with a central image of breast-feeding and its challenges, which speaks to the very core of motherhood and the various engagements and, potential betrayals of the body. To say the least, it is a weird time, and this poem manages to approach something deeply emotional with intellectual and philosophical fervor, reaching across gender lines, as the narrator finds herself in a state of perpetual diminishment, a sloughing-off of self-hood. Call in reinforcements, she says, but there is only the single self, and its valiant attempts at unity. The holy place is not where worship takes place, says the poem, but in the liminal space of process.
For more information on the selection guidelines, please click: 2014 STD Poetry Contest Guidelines.
Once again, thank you to everyone who supported Sigma and entered the contest. We look forward to hearing our winners read with Patty Seyburn this coming Fall. I am sure it will be just as electrifying and earth shattering as this: