An inside look into theVocal Curation Team’s favorite poems from the Sensational Challenge
At Vocal, we’re always going on and on about the freedoms of limitation and how walls and decisions and editing make great art. But sometimes you just need to let your creative hair down, throw some paint at the wall. This was one of our more open prompts, free for interpretation, few limits, just give us a poem, a sense of the senses.
We received poems that spanned the spectrum, from classic rhyme schemes to poems that looked and felt very much like fiction stories. However you approached this Challenge, we were thrilled to read your entries.
Here are the winners of the Sensational Challenge and spotlight on one of the Runners-Up. You can check out the full list of winners HERE.
$1,000 Grand Prize Winner
Suze Kay for Yellow Wood
My dearest wish: he smells no smoke, tastes only honey.
First, we have the title. Yellow Wood. There is a bright sturdiness to this title. And that’s what we found this entire poem to be, sturdy and bright. It is no new exercise to pair tragedy with natural beauty, but so often, the tragedy is consumed by the beauty, as though the author wants death or whatever near it to be subsumed by time and nature, to distort the hurt of the moment, turn it into something more forgiving like a bird or the moon. But not here. Kay gives us a visceral, clearly spoken poem about a suicide among the Yellow Wood. And it was this clear, succinct language that set this poem apart. No blinking from the truth. A man killed himself today, and this is how it went. Terribly sad, but we couldn’t look away. That’s great writing. Congratulations, Suze Kay!
$250 Second Place
Stephanie Ginger for Acoustics
to illuminate the creak
of the Earth’s backbone
This poem required more than one read. When we finally did take it all in, it sat within us like a still pond, shuddered slightly by the wind but only at the perfect moment. An ode to Greek acoustics, what a subtle, unexpected subject, and from the ear of a child. This piece is simply beautiful. Its sounds are beautiful and it comes off of the tongue like silk. It made us want to write more poetry. Congratulations, Stephanie Ginger!
Grace Follett for The Taxidermist
A starling is stretched and divvied up
across the operating table
We read this poem as a battle between human and animal. By our very nature we interfere with nature, we cannot help it, yet we are of nature, but so, so different. And even when we are appreciating, we are destroying. We are our own folly and that of the rest of the planet. At least that’s our take. Well done, Grace Follett!