Read: Winner and Runner-Up of the 2020 Poetry Contest

Read: Winner and Runner-Up of the 2020 Poetry Contest

April 12, 2022

During the month of April, we'll be celebrating the winners and runners-up of our last three annual poetry contests. Last week, we posted work by Arah Ko and Christine Swint from Issue 61: Beginnings and Endings, which released this past March.


Issue 57: Mend


Up this week: Laura Budofsky Wisniewski's "The Difference Between a Year and a Lifetime" and "Papier-mâché" by Yvette Siegert, winner and runner-up of our 2020 contest. Both poems appeared alongside select finalists in Issue 57: Mend, which released in December 2020.

If reading inspires you to submit your own work, head over to Submittable, where you can check out the full guidelines for this year's contest. 



The Difference Between a Year and a Lifetime

For a year you can exalt in a feather
For a year you can forget what hit you
forget the blade that cut through
the turpentine of mango.
For a year you can plan the party
you will throw when the year is over
or plan an assignation
at the corner of time and jasmine.
For a year you can read the headlines
feed the sparrow,
listen for wingbeats just out of earshot,
beat the ground for earthworms
excavate the dreams
you dreamed the year before.
For a year you can be lonely
as pajamas in the daytime, lonely
as the doorknob, lonely
as the threshold, lonely
as the light shaft
on the polished wooden floor.
You can do it for a year.
A year is just a door
you are slowly walking through
but a lifetime is this window
its eye,
that sky,
this wind.





In the days before our leaving, everything burns. The plastic bags, my mother’s hair.
The sweet peppers, the temple doors.

We have been sampling our languages and gathering a signature palette of nouns.
A rite of passage before we can carry our words.

What will we use to say love or becoming—can we say valise for a suitcase that
rattles on cobblestones, and if it is empty—and what of waves when it concerns the
lapping of a lake in a landlocked country?

For father, someone chooses a luminous word from her mother tongue. Another
opts for a place-word. Let our fathers be elsewhere, she says. Newfoundland,
Belfast, Valparaiso.

I imagine a helix, or a rooftop brimming with mist, but how to mention this. I choose
my father tongue for forgiveness and also for sun. Their origins like intertwining

My mother dabs her perfume and says, Make peace. My father says, I languish. My
mother says, Strange lily. My father says, My doubt.

These sound to me like sorrow. A pelican’s beak, a toughened suffix without its
word. All these things it carries. All-carried. All-carried’s eve.

For the new year, we stand around a paper effigy on the lawn. The figure of an
elderly man, his neck a pox of newsprint, his forehead slick with ink and glue.

We write our sorrows down on Post-Its, in just a few words. Take them elsewhere,
one of us says. She adjusts his hat and tucks her paper into the brim. Her sister
ruffles hers into a bowtie.

My mother tapes hers to his right hand like a dove. My father folds his into a clot of
beard. I slip my paper into the calico pocket of his coat, and then we set his chest
on fire.


Want to read more finalists from the 2020 contest? You can buy a print or digital copy of Issue 57 in our store.

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