Literary Hook: Poetry winner, runner-up announced

The Rock River Times is pleased to present the winner and runner-up in poetry in this year’s contest.

Nancy Tupper Ling, first-prize winner, is from Walpole, Mass. In her bio, she states: “Recently, I was selected by the Writer’s Digest as their Grand Prize winner in their 2005 Writing Competition. My first book, Laughter in My Tent: A Woman’s Search for Family, was published by Steppingstones Publishers. Other publication credits include: Connecticut River Review, Re)verb, Many Mountains Moving, Mid-American Poetry Review and Rambunctious Review (Chicago).”

We admired her poem, “What of a Thing Left Undone?” because it succinctly captured what many of us have felt. We, as busy people, often forget to do the most important and compassionate thing. We also enjoyed the beauty of the lines, the precise wording, and care with poetic language.

Here is the winning poem:

What of a Thing Left Undone?

I did everything on my list:

water plants,

vac stairs,

seed for feeder.

Once my cousin was busy,

reminders stuck

to her cabinets,

names and numbers to call.

That was before

her ovaries grew fat

and full of cancer,

her frame folding onto itself,

before her body refused

the chicken soup,

the IV drip—weakened

by the toil and tussle of it all.

I hunted for psalms and hymns,


for the pain,

hers and mine.

And what did I fear?

Talk of seedlings

lining her windowsill,

awaiting a gardener;

the clear, refined voice,

defying the thing

that wanted it silenced?

After the news,

I phoned him,

the one left behind,


I never called Marilyn.

This year’s runner-up is “Beach Ecology by Gregory P. Braquet. His bio states the following:

“Greg Braquet lives in New Orleans, but like most poets lives in a world of his own schmoosing. His poetry has appeared in such publications as The New Laurel Review, THEMA, The Tap Root Review, Lucid Stone, Desire Street, Poetry Life & Times, The Breath Magazine, Red River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Pierian Springs, Tryst, Side Reality, The Adagio Verse Quarterly, The Little Green Tricycle, The Junket, Tin Lustre, L’Intrigue, Branches Quarterly, Stylus Poetry Journal, Subtle Tea and The Exquisite Corpse, Slow Trains, and The Melic Review. He was a recipient of the Delirium Journal’s 2003 Choice Award, and placed third in the 2005 Eugene Walter Writers Festival. He was also the Featured Poet in a past issue of The Hiss Quarterly

We especially admired his poem for its whimsical turn-about at the end of the poem, as well as his precisely sculpted tercet stanzas. We enjoyed the language and candor of his voice as well.

Here is the runner-up:

Beach Ecology

Watching sand pour from an

abandoned beer can,

—Budweiser red,

oranged by the sun and the

apathy of its former owner—

I am struck by the irony

and back sided awe fueling

this concave moment,

till squawking from a gawking,

half-breed cousin to a pelican,

rouses me from my self-absorbed blur.

I’m no metaphor, just a hindrance

to her eye-on-a-meal existence;

yet, I have no doubt she can

distinguish between landscape and

debris, between the natural and the

unnatural, and it would never occur

to her bird brain to toss imagery

over a sore and call it inspiration.

These are indeed good poems to enjoy and savor.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the July 5-11, 2006, issue

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