Yowza! A Prize in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest

Every year the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota, also hosts the Maria W. Faust sonnet contest, the subject of a post on this blog. I submitted several sonnets to the contest, one of which won a prize in the “Laureates” category.


I just received a letter of notification and have been spending serious time on Cloud Nine, definitely a nice cloud to be on. The winning sonnet is “Rain Trance,” which was published on String Poet awhile back, but which I’ll post here too, since a few years have passed.

There will be a Reception and Reading at the festival in Winona on August 2 at 11:00 am when Shakespearean actors will read the winning poems (there are a number of them in different categories).

Rain Trance

I love this constant thrumming on the roof,
wrapping me inside its thick cocoon
of sound, a monastery in the rough.
Percussive chants, these waves refresh the bone,
carry in their very pulse a silence –
not an eye, but a collective calm
whose soft crescendo beckons with its cadence.
Through swells of chattering I hear a psalm.
My sense of place dissolves, the clouding hours
disintegrate, my thoughts – mere whisper-heft –
form solo islands in a sea of choirs.
And who or what am I? And what is left
of this world as I drift away, aloof?
Just a constant thrumming on the roof.

Unsplendid Women & Form Issue with Two of My Poems!


The long-awaited, spectacular double issue of Unsplendid, a very sophisticated site for and about poetry written in form (traditional or invented), with the theme of Women and Form, is now online! And it includes two of my poems, written in a form I invented, a form I call “strangled alphabet” because one can only use the letters that are in the title to create the entire poem (plus the letters’ frequency in any one word can’t exceed their frequency in the title).

It sounds more like an acrostic or puzzle perhaps than a form, but it really does provide constraints, something poetic forms do, which can produce very striking sonic results, and can also take the poet out of their normal creative pathways into something more surprising. Which is what I need. It requires, of course, some work in deciding on a title that won’t be too restrictive, and more preparatory work prior to the actual composition than other forms, but… For an obsessive person, it just may balance puzzle-solving obsessiveness (am I guilty?) with creativity…

The quality of poetry in this issue is staggering! All the authors are women, and several essays on the subject of women and form are also included. The editors’ sixth sense of what engages and fascinates a reader pays off. You can scroll down and savor the poems one by one, or skip around through the amazing titles. I’ve always wanted to be in Unsplendid, perhaps one of my all-time favorite poetry venues, so this is cloud nine (or more accurately, cloud seventeen) for me. My first-ever foray into reading my own poem as an audio clip also appears here. I decided to push myself out of my own box.

And so here it is, poetry that comes entirely out of the box, yet delightfully contained in some of the most inventive uses of form I’ve seen. Enjoy!

Esther Greenleaf Mürer, Breaking Boundaries

In an interview with Walter Ancarrow on Kin Poetry Journal, Esther Greenleaf Mürer (love that middle name!) answers questions about how she began to get really serious about writing poetry at age 75, among other things. All ye who think there are insurmountable barriers and not much to be done when one gets old, take note! This is a poet to watch! Up-and-coming, and endlessly imaginative. She exemplifies the eternal youth and creativity of the human mind.

She discusses the strong element of wordplay and humor in her work:

It’s the comic muse that enables me to let go, take risks.

Poets she mentions as inspiration are e.e. cummings, John Ashbery, and Ogden Nash. Her poem, delightfully titled “Oxydoxes and Paramorons,” starts with lines from John Ashbery and answers them in the style of Ogden Nash. The result is a fabulously imaginative piece you can find on Kin Poetry, here.

She has written many ghazals and also written her own hybrid forms, such as “Chain Ghazal: Chickens” published in The Guardian.

Check out other links to her poems at Kin. Her unique and delightful approach to the craft of poetry is inspiring, as is the fact that she decided to do this so late in life.