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The Eratosphere Poet Contest Awards

Contest Judge:

Timothy Steele

The First Prize Winner
Terence Sheridan

Second Prize Winner
Jim Hayes


First Prize

Terence Sheridan

      (read by Terence Sheridan in Real Audio) click to hear Terence Sheridan read ‘Circe’ in Real Audio

The zinfandel, the crackers, and the Brie
Were carefully arranged between the two.
He studied at the University.
The hostess taught and lectured on Cixous.
The table turned, more food was brought to him.
A fifteen year advantage went to her,
Discounting her endearing smile, her trim
Physique, the hazel eyes and chestnut hair.
“So witty and intelligent!” he mused.
She grinned and thought, “So much potential, there.”
Her looks, the zinfandel — his mind confused,
He felt a radiance; her mind was clear.
They finished off the zinfandel and Brie
And covered lessons from the Odyssey

Terence's comments:

The basic incarnation of “Circe” was written during a holiday in January 2001. It took all day to pen the lines and smooth out the kinks. The portion of the poem that seemed to consume the most time was the final couplet. I was trying to conclude the poem with something not too subtle and yet not too cliché. So I went through several words (e.g., biology, pyrotechny, chemistry, anatomy) before settling on an allusion to the Odyssey.

The inspiration for the poem came from a piece I wrote for a creative writing course back in college. In the original piece, however, the professor was a man. The poem was not well received in class, so I put it aside. Years passed before I decided to make anything out of it. When I wrote “Circe,” the lines of the original poem were abandoned, but the basic theme was used with some modifications (viz., the professor was changed to a woman, and the poem took on sexual overtones).

I must confess that “Circe” was written as a workshop experiment. Prior to penning it, I wrote a poem in blank verse and plain diction for review at the Eratosphere online workshop. That poem was deceptively straightforward, aiming at a type of minimalism with ironic elements, double-entendres, and literary allusions. Unfortunately, it didn’t connect with my readers. So, I determined to then write something more accessible in a more poetic diction. It was my suspicion that a poem written in this manner with an obvious “punch line” at the end would garner a favorable reaction from my readers. So I wrote “Circe” and my assumption turned out to be correct. I am still quite surprised, however, at how well the poem has been received.

At any rate, I am honored and grateful to Timothy Steele, Alex Pepple, and others responsible for the Eratosphere Poet contest. I congratulate Jim Hayes and the other winners for their excellent work. Finally, I thank other Eratosphere participants that gave me candid feedback, encouragement, etc. The workshop has been both challenging and rewarding. Needless to say, I look forward to more interaction with fellow writers at Eratosphere in the near future.

Click here to visit Terence Sheridan's start page.


Second Prize

Jim Hayes
This Wrinkle that I Notice in your Face
                                    (read by Jim Hayes in Real Audio) click to hear Jim Hayes read ‘This Wrinkle that I Notice in your Face’ in Real Audio

Some little thing is slightly out of place,
It's something that I haven't seen before;
this wrinkle that I notice in your face.

A thread my fingers delicately trace;
a laughter line?- It could be nothing more:
some little thing is slightly out of place.

Could I, with one small wish, somehow erase
this mark of ageing that I can’t ignore—
a wrinkle that I notice in your face?

How I would like to make a carapace
protecting you, so it was I that bore
this little thing, that’s slightly out of place.

Yet I imagine you will age with grace;
perhaps I am being selfish to deplore
this wrinkle, that I notice in your face.

Come, my belovèd, lie in my embrace;
I'll school myself to study and adore
each wrinkle, that I notice in your face.
Some little things are always out of place.


Jim's comments:

My interest in poetry stems, like most devotees, from childhood, however my poetry writing is of much more recent vintage. In a life during which I spent a great many years travelling internationally, creative writing time was at a premium with little opportunity to engage with the muse, consequently, it was only some three years ago that I began to take writing seriously.

Living where I do, in the beautiful medieval town of Kilkenny in south-east Ireland, there is no facility to workshop or otherwise communicate with other formalist poets, consequently the advent of on-line forums where one could post for critique and dialogue with other poets of like interest, has proven to be an immeasurable boon, not alone in advancing my technical competence, but in giving me exposure to poets of great ability and artistry, beyond any such I could hope to encounter otherwise.

Significant to the benefit of on-line workshopping is the immediacy of response, amounting practically to real-time dialogue. Material — in concept and form, can be experimented in with no untoward loss of time or creative energy.

My poem is a very good case in point. It is a tribute to my wife Una, to whom I will be married thirty years next October. When I first workshopped it on Eratosphere I was very close to trudging back to Parnassus for another assignment, when the response in terms of encouragement and suggestions and some particularly good advice received from three moderators persuaded me to continue to develop it further.

It always amazes, how so many excellent and erudite writers continue to give so selflessly of their talent to assist and educate.

I will not cease to be grateful

Click here to visit Jim Hayes' start page.

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