Poetry

The West

The West

I. Front Range

Lean men prone to heroic understatement,
they have a drawled, laconic way of speaking.
They know that for their debts there’s no abatement
nor boundaries to the vistas they are seeking.

No, there’s only the Front Range of the Rockies
behind which the westering sun is setting
on stallion breakers too strong to be jockeys
and water rights the Judge of all is vetting.

II.  Jornada del Muerto

Tete Rouge Cache

Tete Rouge Cache

Had I a wooden ship
to bear my love from me,
I’d fire it at its slip,
then warp it out to sea.
Or must I strew his ashes
on wild Wyoming passes
climbed in the Seventies?
The thought of that abashes
me and my aching knees.
He’ll sleep in prairie grasses
under his apple trees.

Two Climbers

Two Climbers

Shedding our heavy packs,
we thought it no great feat
to storm a vertical mile,
then beat a steep retreat.

Our trails?  Now needle tracks
from an infusion chair.
Gamely, he feigns a smile
just to ascend a stair.

My Father Forgot

My Father Forgot

The Long Window

The Long Window

Grand Forks, ND

Grand Forks, ND

Bake-off Begins Tomorrow

Catherine Chandler's picture

Dear Fellow Poets,

In choosing the finalists from the sixty-one sonnets submitted to me for this year’s bake-off, I relied on the wisdom of poets, the expertise of scholars and, of course, my own gut feelings, what I call the “goose-bump factor,” which may or may not be wise, but there it is.

My decision matrix was based on the following four main criteria (weights in brackets), all of which had sub-criteria as well:

(A) craft, sound, mechanics, images, mood (2)
(B) true to the spirit of the sonnet (3)
(C) universality/transcendence (2)
(D) goose-bumps (3)

Sonnet Bake-off: One week to go!

Catherine Chandler's picture

In one week, I'll be posting the first two bake-off sonnets, with Mr. Turner Cassity's comments and a few of my own.

In her Introduction to The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Phillis Levin states that the sonnet is " . . . a mode of introspection, a crystallization of the process of thought, of a self arriving at self-consciousness.”

This seems to be borne out in this year's bake-off, as no less than 72% of the sonnets submitted were written in the first person, 82% of which were in the first person singular.

Bake-off Selections

Catherine Chandler's picture

I know my mind and I have made my choice;
Not from your temper does my doom depend;
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay (Fatal Interview, sonnet XLV)

Dear Poets,

The deadline for the sonnet bake-off submissions has now passed. I made no final decision until after 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, just in case we had some submissions from as far away as Hawaii, but no, the last one was received at around 3 p.m. EDT.

An embarrassment of riches

Catherine Chandler's picture

"From A Very Little Sphinx"
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Come along in then, little girl!
Or else stay out!
But in the open door she stands,
And bites her lip and twists her hands,
And stares upon me, trouble-eyed;
'Mother,' she says, 'I can't decide!'

Dear Poets,

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