BEST OF 2003

BEST OF 2002

BEST OF 2001

BEST OF 2000





May 2002-April 2003
Judged by
Dan Kaplan

Poem of the Year
Communion with the Deceased
by MJM
Submitted by 
Wild Poetry Forum

Second Place
love and thick metaphors

by Kathryn Koromilas
Submitted by 
MiPo Digital Magazine

Third Place
Passenger Side
by Dana Elaine Carr
Submitted by 
Cafe Utne

Judges Comments and Winning Poems

I judged, as I always do, how well the poems, from start to finish, accomplish what they set out to do, how well-crafted, well-edited, engaging, and precise they are, how well they work on the page. 
-Dan Kaplan

Poem of the Year
Communion with the Deceased

This poet uses many of the tools at her/his disposal. The voice is controlled and authoritative and imposes a rhythm fitting to and reflective of the subject matter, moving from idea to idea seamlessly in its probe for answers--and that’s why the ending packs such a punch, punctuating what the poem, in line 1, announces it will do (look for answers). The poem uses line breaks well (“Better to know we loved her well/enough to leave well enough alone”), at times moves elliptically (going from the previous sequence to “It is mid June”), which reflects the speaker’s precarious state of mind, and uses internal rhyme (“June,” “lupine,” and “bloom”) to glue ideas and images together. A well-constructed, emotionally-risky piece. 
                                                          - Dan Kaplan

Communion with the Deceased
by MJM

Tell me something. What good could have come
from this? I'm prone in a wildflower
field in Eagle, Colorado. I have bourbon
in my glass and I don't drink. I feel queasy.

There is a gathering of people behind me under
a rented canopy, the white ones used for weddings
and times like these. All of them knew you better
than they know me. They carry canapés in their hands,

stories of your exploits on their lips, undigested grief
in that tender spot below the breastbone. I'm clawing
at the knapweed and they pretend there’s nothing
wrong with that because they've already decided

I'm deranged. What could I have told her about her
late father that she wouldn't have already known?
That a blackball in the bloodstream is as inheritable
as your fear of water, your love of Escher, your proclivity

for laughter? That we ignored the risks of genetic disease,
birthed her anyway? What good could have come
of her being? Better to know we loved her well
enough to leave well enough alone. It is mid June.

The lupine are late to bloom this high in the hills
and there is no child who requires an explanation
of love and death. Nor to lose to them either. No stranger
at a wake need lead her away from a mother who lays

in the dirt. All this is easier without her
than with her. It is, isn't it? Speak to me.

Second Place
love and thick metaphors

A creative, playful, intelligent piece that uses the page well. The voice is engaging and confident, brash. The sections give the poem a regenerative quality, the poet displaying her/his wit in take after take. Excellent word choices in places (“bare geography”) that make the images pop off the page. The use of other elements like numbers and various units of measure add a satisfying visual element. -Dan Kaplan

love and thick metaphors
by Kathryn Koromilas

with a nod to Gerard Manley Hopkins


if i pull a thick
out of a thin
hat, will you bring your ruler?


measure this:

i slide down the curve of your spine and whisper Silk Smooth Paper
(thickness of metaphor, 385 gsm)
i tap the skin there, press keyboard-button bones
(size of metaphor, Lucida Sans 14 pt, Bold)
and make the word dapple
--i'm about to express how your skin is the sun peeking through the trees as
seen fragmented on bare geography--


someone said it's all about contraction; making a smaller simile. For

the long version:
Wait, wait for me, will you? Adventure tells me I have to go. I'll be back.
Stay. Like An Obedient Pet. Stay. And if you close your heart to all the
others, I'll come back Like A Treat, Like A Fat Chicken Biscuit.

the short version:
Be my Penelope.


Aristotle didn't speak of thick or thin, just metafora--
giving you a name
taken from someone else--

You are my Ted
(as in Hughes, Poet-Man-God; height of metaphor, over 6ft tall),
my Sweet
thing (as in John or chocolate, weight of metaphor, 90 kilos or 250 grams,

Diomedes didn't speak of size, either; but of shifting
meaning from proper to improper, for the sake of:

a. beauty (your dappled sunlight smile warms my brow)
b. necessity (i frame you, my dappled-red Picasso, in the tortured gallery
of my mind)
c. polish (your whisper, dappled promise of early afternoon in the park)
and d. emphasis (the dapple-drawn puzzle of your heart)


sometimes i'll speak metaphors you won't notice, so familiar
by now (you're my Araki bud; my red
my red my red my red my red
rose; will love ever
bloom in the desert of your heart?),
they must have been vivid
once but they've shriveled;
melted fat into thin common bones.
Death does that.


watch me pull a thick metaphor
out of a thin hat, call me poet
and love me for it.

Third Place
Passenger Side

A quiet, subtle, melancholy piece. The strength of the poem is in its careful selection of representative details and images (“sculpture of each weed,” “fading billboards,” “agricultural lubricants”); look how much work the single word “hope” does. The poem is one long sentence, which means the poet must vary the syntax to keep things interesting (which she/he does), and gains momentum as it moves through the literal and metaphoric “landscape.”
                                                                  -Dan Kaplan

Passenger Side
by Dana Elaine Carr

So much more patient with intricacy,
even than in my youth,
when I won a reputation for complicating
anything I touched,
I gather the details of every landscape,
the flakes of paint on every abandoned barn,
the sculpture of each weed that grows
in the roadside ditch,
the precise way the tear in the banner
shows the sky, sings with the wind,
fading billboards with puzzling messages
about agricultural lubricants and God,
and signs offering bulbs free
to those who will plant them in hope.


This year our judge was Dan Kaplan. Dan is Editor of Black Warrior Review. He won an AWP Intro Journals Award for Poetry in 2002 and has recent work in Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, Quick Fiction and elsewhere. To find out more about Dan please read the IBPC: Newswire Interview.

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