2020 JRMPC Winners – Community and Activism

Click the following title, Sunbeams to purchase the 2020 Anthology.

I am proud to announce the 2020 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest Winners and Finalists on the themes of Community and Activism.

Rae Theodore

1st Place – $400

I chose Rae Theodore’s poem because she perfectly captured the year 2020 in a way I view literature and the arts helping to guide us through a very difficult time. Her poem combined the profound and the simple (a difficult feat) to help us all survive. 

Rae Theodore of Royersford, Pennsylvania is the author of My Mother Says Drums Are for Boys: True Stories for Gender Rebels and Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices from the Gay BarsSister Wisdom and Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender. You can read about her adventures in gender nonconformity on her blog, The Flannel Files. Rae is immediate past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association and lives in Royersford, Pennsylvania, with her wife, kids, cats and a jalapeño plant named José.

The Library Will Be Open for Extended Hours as a Cooling Center During the Heatwave

by Rae Theodore

Bring your post-election anger
your 2020 rage

Remember every time something you knew
to be true
was called fake, fake, fake

Bring your family’s division
a volcanic fissure
leaking lava inside your chest

Your heat rash
a form of Braille
spelling HATE in scarlet against your breast

Crack open a book
Peel a page

Let it melt on your tongue
like a snowflake
If it helps you stay cool
If it helps you survive

Jill Bronfman

2nd Place – $200

I chose Jill Bronfman’s poem because she painted such an important and empathetic view of women volunteering to help other women overcome violence in a legal system that often thwarts their efforts to care for themselves and their children. This poem builds a heart rending narrative because it is far too common.

Jill Bronfman is a San Francisco, California professor, lawyer, non-profit worker, and parent. In recent years, her work has been accepted for publication in Rougarou, Ruminate Magazine, The Write Launch, The Decadent Review, The Halcyone, 82 Review, The Passed Note, Storgy, Verbal, Kallisto Gaia, Main Street Rag, High Desert, Flying Ketchup, Carcosa, Genre: Urban Arts, Ripples in Space, Mothers Always Write, Talking Writing, Coffin Bell Journal, Flock, Wanderlust Journal, Quiet Lightening, and a variety of law and technical books and periodicals. She has performed her work in Poets in the Parks, The Basement Series, and LitQuake, and had her story about a middle-aged robot produced as a podcast.

On Saturdays

by Jill Bronfman

On Saturday afternoons at one o’clock
The door of the free legal clinic opens
And we enter with pens and paper
And we are followed, and we lock the door
On Saturday afternoons at half-past one
I sit in a chair and there is always one woman
And sometimes there are two
And they tell me a story I’ve heard before
On Saturday afternoons at nearly two
I am writing as fast as I can but I am not
Writing down the whole story
The whole story contains all of us
But by Saturdays this deadly line
Must summarize the world of what
Is heat and threats and rocks thrown through windows
And pain, and fear, and fear of more pain
I will always ask about the children, because
If we mention the children the judge will
Suddenly see a clear reason, because
This woman, sometimes, is not enough
On Saturdays at two on the black and white school clock
My first client leaves and the second one comes in
She is smiling, she is shaking my hand but
She is surely shaking, full of what she must spill, to live still.

Mike Lehman

3rd Place – $100 

I chose Mike Lehman’s poem because he finds wonder amid a derailed chaos.  His use of metaphor connects closely to the year’s pandemic, but is a universal message of hope and rebirth through observation of nature. 

Michael Lehman was born and raised in Hart, Michigan. His mother was an educator and his father a business owner. Michael is the youngest of four children and feels blessed to have been part of a loving and energetic family that found balance in faith, education, labor, and recreation. Michael is a graduate of Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University with majors in English composition, psychology, and media as well as a Master’s degree in literature. He was an English instructor for thirty-five years, has three grown children, and currently lives in Hart, Michigan and The Villages, Florida.

Our Chance to Listen

by Mike Lehman

The train we ride
Slams into a wall of Silence.
Afraid, rising from the impact
We inventory.
The thunder of diesel engines
Makes way to a vacuum, then sound.
Birds, unaware, shoot arrows of sweet
Melody into ears gasping like gills.
A jetliner morphs into a common housefly.
A huge limb crashes from the canopy,
Transposes: a maple leaf with
Gossamer veins, painted in deafening
Green, sings, kisses the moss.
A breeze-directed symphony from a
Master’s score: Cowslips sway
In harmony to woodwinds
Within the dogwoods.
Melodies lift and fall in
Compartments of natural stillness.
Tenors throb in lowing
Pasture musicians.
A new sound
Ripe for listening.
The chance to hear, to engage.
The sonata swells in urgency.
To be heard, plied, molded, kept alive.
At the stoppage of the train.

2020 Finalists

Michael Baldwin – I have a Nightmare 

Michael Baldwin, MLS, MPA, is a native of Fort Worth, TX. He is a retired library administrator and professor of American Government. He won the Violet Newton Poem Prize, 2000, the Eakin Poetry Book Award, 2011, for Scapes, and the Morris Chapbook Award, 2012, for Counting Backward From Infinity. His book of Texas poetry, Lone Star Heart (Lamar University Press, 2016) vied for the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Book Award. His book, The Quantum Uncertainty of Love (Shanti Arts Press, 2019) was a National Book Award nominee. He has also published 4 volumes of science-fiction short stories, a mystery thriller novel, a volume of flash sci-fi plays, a children’s science adventure book Mr. Baldwin resides in Benbrook, TX. Visit his website: www.jmbaldwin.com  & Amazon author page: http://bit.ly/AmazonBaldwin.  

Dave Lull – Old Omar

Dave is a former third place winner of the 2019 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest on the theme joy, and likes to write fiction, science fiction, and poetry of all kinds, that is humorous, makes a statement, is just enjoyable to read or has a twist (or any combination).  He has two user experience design books published and is a guitarist and scale modeler.

Brenda Murillo – The Window

Brenda Murillo of Garland, Texas is a 70 year old wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys writing poems. This poem was written after witnessing the events from my 37th floor work window. She feels fortunate to have one poem accepted for publication elsewhere and honored to have her poem accepted for Sunbeams!

Luke Osborne – Cultivations

Luke graduated from William and Mary with a degree in fine art. His works of poetry and painting function as creative processes of personal and social transformation. He lives in rural St. Ignatius, Montana producing vegetables and raising chickens on his small scale farm.  

Sean Power – Harvest Vine

Sean Power is a poet and writer who lives in Seattle, WA. For his day job, he writes grants for a non-profit supporting immigrants and refugees. In his spare time, he enjoys writing poems and creative non-fiction. An avid traveler, Sean is working on a memoir about once living deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon and where he experienced psychological side effects from a now notorious anti-malarial drug, ones that thankfully subsided.

Jean Prokott – Birthday Deer, 2020                                     Mylar on Carrion

Jean Prokott has poetry and nonfiction published or forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Midwestern Gothic, Quarterly West, RHINO, Red Wheelbarrow, and Sierra Nevada Review, among other journals; she is a recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award and second place winner of the 2019 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Award. She is a graduate of MSU Mankato’s MFA program, holds a Master’s of Science in Education, and currently lives in Rochester, Minnesota and online at jeanprokott.com.

Devin Reese – Grateful

Devin Reese is a nonfiction writer and biologist. She scripts science shows and video productions, writes science curriculum with animations, and otherwise puts her science PhD to work. The lens through which she sees the world makes her also fascinated with humans – how they love, how they jostle for power, how they come together in crises – and that is what her poetry is about.

Steve Rose – This Summer’s Equinox

Steve Rose has been published in numerous journals and magazines, including So It Goes, a literary journal dedicated to the memory of Kurt Vonnegut; The Midwest Review; The Journal of Medical Literature; Dime Bag of Poetry; and Lyrical Iowa’s “adult general” category where he has placed five times. He has published two books of poetry: Hard Papas in 2014 and Nebraska and Other States in 2017.  A retired professor, he busies himself writing, reading, fishing, and bicycling. He also judges poetry for various publications.

Diane Thiel – Changing Reality

Diane Thiel is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies, among others.  Her new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Thiel’s work has appeared in many journals and is re-printed in over sixty major anthologies.  Her awards include a PEN award, the Robinson Jeffers Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Nicholas Roerich Award, an NEA Award, and she was a Fulbright Scholar.  Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University and is Professor of English and Associate Chair at the University of New Mexico.  With her husband and four children, Thiel has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects. www.dianethiel.net

2020 Donors

Flower Garden Donor – $500

Beth Snider a 2 time Sunbeams Poet

Violet Donor – $25

Richard Lewis a 3 time Sunbeams Poet


Add yours →

  1. Hello Brett,
    I clicked on the Sunbeams anthology, added to cart but can’t find the link for the cart or how to pay.
    Also i don’t see myself listed. I’m disappointed at not being a winner but i thought in a previous email my poem was accepted.


  2. Thank you. I found the shopping cart icon. I couldn’t find it at first.

    Liked by 1 person

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