Sunbeams: The 2018 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest Anthology is now for sale. Click the above book cover to order your copies today.
1st Prize – $200
by Shelly Reed Thieman
West Des Moines, Iowa
Shelly Reed Thieman is an Iowa poet who feels deep responsibility for sharing the beautiful and burlesque range of human emotion and experience through poetry. She is a disciple of vivid and unexpected imagery, a discoverer of glamour in the unglamorous, a mistress of montage.
Contemplation and prayer practices deeply influence her writing. Shelly is a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Iowa Poetry Association and Omega Poetry Group. Recent poems have appeared in Lyrical Iowa, Haiku Journal and Modern Haiku. Shelly writes to connect with those who have preceded us, those we currently encounter, and those who will follow us.
She and the dog have ripened together
in Yavapai County, know the pulse
of the Javelina herd during feast of agave
and prickly pear. She rises late, boils
Mugwort tea before spreading
runes, massages warm sand
into hands worn thin as old maps.
She stretches, folds inward, chants.
The dog climbs into a bathtub
of sunlight to soak his ancient limbs.
Her days are unhurried; she hunts crystals,
presses pestle to cedar, cedar to mortar
for incense, turns sandalwood to oil.
Like a horned lark she gathers gifts
from the desert to mend and convalesce.
While evening gathers, she rests. Wind
soothes wild wisps of her gray hair,
the dog tells stories with his rain-dance
tail, patiently waits to receive her balms,
her hands, her benediction-filled eyes.
I chose “Healers” because it soothes. The deliberate cadence, imagery and title are restorative and giving, like a mother’s love. – Brett Ramseyer
2nd Prize – $100
“PILOT OF THE AIR WAVES”
by G. Lloyd Helm
G. L. Helm has published poetry and many short stories all over the world in anthologies, news papers and magazines. He has published seven novels and two volumes of short stories.
“PILOT OF THE AIR WAVES”
My cousin Bobby died—
He smoked for years and years—
Said it gave him a smoky quality to his voice
That made it sound more intimate on the Radio.
He was a DJ on a little station in Missouri.
He did the sports and the news
And the recorded ad spots,
But what he liked best was to be the late night man
The DJ who spins records into the empty blue night—
The one who talks to his listeners as though they are
In the studio with him.
The late night man is the one who makes his lonely listeners
Feel a little less alone.
The station Bobby worked at was small,
But on nights when the inversion layer was right
It could be heard as far away as Kansas City
And mothers with sick children,
Or lovers who had quarreled
Or old folks deserted by sleep
Could listen, and feel like some one cared—
Feel that there was another human being on the planet.
That they weren’t alone
In the wee hours
of that all-engulfing darkness that can swallow a person,
If they feel deserted enough.
I hope all the people
Alone in the Missouri night who listened to him
Will lift him up to God,
Remembering that smoky voice
That made them less alone.
I chose “PILOT OF THE AIR WAVES” for the narrative style that sought human connection across the lonely reach of a radio tower on a sleepless night. My mother often stared into the black of insomnia, exhausted when morning blinked through the limbs of her valley. When the rested awoke to join her she spent her days practicing small kindnesses making us feel less alone. We miss her for that. – Brett Ramseyer
3rd Prize – $50
I want to pee
by Ailish NicPhaidin
Palm Bay, Florida
Ailish NicPhaidin emigrated from Ireland to Florida in 1997 with her then 9-year old daughter and has written poetry for the past twelve years.
I want to pee
We were singled out in savagery
Some of us waivered, fell, and were shot
In the head by a grinning gunman
We left them where they fell
For others to hold their stillness
As we delved more clearly and deeper
To hush the mighty unrest in our breath.
Into the wagons they shoved us
Hounded, herded and hood-winked
Not a snivel or tear in anyone’s darkness
Even the children ne’er wept nor jerked
Just like their parents and grandparents
They accepted the fright
Their plight, amid storming and quiet kerfuffle.
From the back of the wagon came a whisper
Barely a breath of a breeze
But nonetheless sounding the hideous
Simple nature of a swollen blockade
With nowhere to go, nowhere to hide
“I want to pee” said my grandmother,
She of ninety-two years of age.
How could she settle that longing?
Maybe once she’s dead in her grave.
Adieu sweet lady
It’s so easy to feel your despair
It might ruffle a few of the feathers
But speak it aloud to the air.
I chose “I want to pee” because the title initially struck me to ready myself for a comic poem thinking of my mother’s notoriously small bladder. When I read on the poem molded my memory with its fragile defiance in a wagon train of man’s inhumanity to man. The old woman stands against forces armed at her immolation, yet she demands her humanity. In our fractured United States I felt it important to hold up this Holocaust-like image so that we might see ourselves as the old woman before we become the ‘grinning gunman.” -Brett Ramseyer
The increased prizes and guaranteed contest with increased cash prizes next year would not be possible without the donations of these generous patrons.
Flower Garden Level $500
Rose Level – $250+
Daffodil Level $100
Rhonda & Scott Greiner
Violet Level $25
2018 Contest Finalists
- Howard Gershkowitz for “Redemption”
- Colleen McMahon for “Ode to Mother Love”
- Erica Steinweg for “Unexpected Warmth”
- Teresa Sutton for “Witching Hour”
- Jo Barbara Taylor for “FAR FAR FROM WELL”
- Trace Wilson for “lifelines” and for “Cooper’s Hawk Clemency”
- Ariana Yeats-Lonske for “Elegy”