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Poets honored at Northwoods Art and Book Festival

The eighth annual Poetry Recognition Event was featured Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack. Poetry was displayed in the Book Arts section of the Union Congregational Church. Each Minnesota poet who entered th...

Tammy Fletcher and Pat Schreiber of Kenyon speak to author Deborah Jensen at the Northwoods Art and Book Fair, Aug. 15. Photo by Travis Grimler
Tammy Fletcher and Pat Schreiber of Kenyon speak to author Deborah Jensen at the Northwoods Art and Book Fair, Aug. 15. Photo by Travis Grimler
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The eighth annual Poetry Recognition Event was featured Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack.

Poetry was displayed in the Book Arts section of the Union Congregational Church. Each Minnesota poet who entered the event had one of his or her poems on display.

A committee selected five winners for Works of Merit. During the day those who attended the festival had an opportunity to vote for their favorite poems. Five poems were then chosen as winners in the Popular Choice category.

Sue Ready, chair of the 2015 Poetry Recognition event, presided over the poetry reading in the afternoon. The program began with Dara Syrkin, a freelance editor and poet from the Twin Cities. She read selected poems from the Nodin Poetry Anthology, a book on display in the Book Arts section.

Sarah Vaughan, a poet, read from her book "What is Reality?" Poets in attendance had an opportunity to read one of their poem submissions and share with the group why poetry matters. Poets were then recognized for their work in the following categories:

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Works of Merit

Dennie Scott, St. Paul, "Light;" Sandra Burwell, Minneapolis, "Grandpa Shawbold;" Francine Marie Tolf, Minneapolis, "Marigolds in November;" Penelope Swan, Hackensack, "Sunday Dinner Percussionist; and Sonja Kosler, Dent, "Solitude."

Popular Choice

Luke Anderson, Battle Lake, "Old Tucker;" Peggy Trojan, Moose Lake, "Life After Death;" Sharon Harris, Menahga, "We, the Middle-Aged;" Sandra Burwell, Minneapolis, "Grandpa Shawbold;" and Lina Belar, Perham, "Giving Thanks."

WINNING POEMS:

Works of Merit winners

"Grandpa Shawbold"

By Sandra Burwell

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My Grandma's father lived with us until he died.

Looking out the front room window, I watched everyone go to the funeral.

They said I was too little.

And now he was gone and was never coming back.

The scene is fuzzy and prickly like the gray sweater he wore,

Sitting in the corner of the dining room.

He spit in the dark coffee can near his chair, I spit there, too.

When he wanted pancakes, I wanted pancakes.

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When he stayed up late, I stayed up late.

When he stayed in. mom asked me to go outside.

I said, "It's too goddamn cold out there."

Now one asked why I did or said any of that.

They knew Grandpa was my mentor, long before anyone had mentors.

Every Saturday, we walked to the corner for tobacco and a Saturday Evening Post.

Then we would go back home and sit in his chair to 'read' it.

I remember the prickly sweater then, most of all.

I would sometimes fall asleep smelling wool and old tobacco.

(This poem was also a Popular Choice winner)

"Marigolds in November"

By Frances Tolf

What thief who sucked the colors out of leaves,

and spat them brown and curling to the breeze,

and hid the sun behind a sheet of gray,

mysteriously permitted you to stay?

A hundred suns that tremble in the cold,

and shake their spangled globes of ruffled gold,

tumbling over broken stems they lean

to touch the spidery hands of evergreen.

The final sparks of autumn's dying fire

are tangled in a twisted snarl of briar.

and though it's true a bitter season reigns,

this prayer, this steadfast song of joy, remains

"Sunday Dinner Percussionist"

By Penelope Swan

Our men are in the barn visiting their horses while

the women work their arses off in the kitchen. We

children coax the men to table three times. They eat

and slurp in silence. Move to the front room, loosen

their belts and ties. Sprawl on the floor and couches.

We listen to our own Snort-Snore-Blurp'n Belch Band.

Choking on laughter, we scrub fast the dirty dishes.

Ohhh, I have the meanness in me-grab two pan

covers, tiptoe close, peer in, and clash those cymbals.

Grandma yelps! Opens wide the screen door. We,

the kitchen help, indivisible, run. Fall together on

green-grazed grass, breathless. I dab tears spritzing

Grandma's cheeks with a soggy flour-sack towel she'd slung over her shoulder on our way out. Hide the evidence, says she, shoving the pan covers under her flaired skirt.I always knew she loved me best.

"Solitude"

By Sonja Kosler

I am the breath of noontime shadow.

I am the flash between day and dusk.

I am the echo of a midnight church bell.

I am the terminal leaf on an autumn branch.

I am solitude.

"Light"

By Dennie Scott

In Missouri, late summer, there is a

kind of sunlight on shorn cornstalks, color

the dulled gold of my grandmother's

wedding ring. The broken stalks are lined,

cracked as in resignation to the bounty

now removed, like her life, its remnants

harvested in places far from the planting.

All old - the light, the corn, the ring, the life,

a denouement while many suns and

moons traverse the world-its love and labor

in rewinding rhythm cycling again

the opening of the earth as it splits

wide to receive what many hands feed it.

A profligacy shimmers there.

Popular Choice winners

"Old Tucker"

By Luke Anderson

Old Tucker naps on my kitchen floor,

Grayed nose resting on forepaws.

While somewhere show dogs pose,

Sheep dogs nip, and sled dogs tug,

Tucker lies here on his braided rug.

Once he was a fine retriever.

Age has dulled his canine instincts

and the urge to hunt is gone, yet,

he knows my coming and my leaving

and feels my joys and my grieving.

He struggles up to his haunches

and looks for me through milky eyes.

I pat his noble head and assure him,

since we've grown old together,

performance no longer matters.

"Life After Death"

By Peggy Trojan

My father never gets

the hang of being dead.

He lived so long, so willingly,

he never accepts his life

is finished, done, kaput.

He appears at family gatherings,

presence comforting as wood smoke,

laughter swirling through the stories.

On trips out of town,

he grumps in the back seat,

now that he can't call shotgun.

This afternoon, there he was

at the table by the window,

easing his back into the sun,

looking for a cup of coffee

and a cinnamon roll.

"We, the Middle-Aged"

By Sharon Harris

the day of the funeral is clear but cold;

sad, tattered clouds are thin and far above us.

neighbors gather.

we, the middle-aged,

we are the kids who grew up

in these farm families; we are the ones

who worked and played together.

today we say goodbye

to the very last of the old neighbors,

the octogenarians who broke the ground,

built the barns, milked the cows,

and filled farmhouses with us, their children.

we the middle-aged, now look about us.

we have become the eldest-

the next ones facing nursing homes

and funerals and gravesites.

our own children watch us,

learning how it is done.

"Giving Thanks"

By Linar Belar

Nothing is ever the way you expect

the job doesn't last a lifetime

neither does the marriage

your children speak an unknown language

People you love die too young

and you can't even climb stairs

without huffing. Yet, there' something

about living that draws you in.

Yellow cushions on garden chairs

bright flowers on the green lawn

little blue stem grass shoots up overnight

geese gather overhead to discuss travel plans

Today, even weeds seem thankful

to be alive. And so, it must be admitted, am I.

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