Ruminate Magazine is excited to share with you the winners of the 2016 Janet B McCabe Poetry Prize. The winning poem was selected by our final judge, Alice Fulton. You can read the winning poems in Issue 40: Nowhere Near, which releases this coming September.
Melissa Reeser Poulin is a full-time mother and poet living in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Catamaran Literary Journal, Water~Stone Review, and the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, among other publications. She is the co-editor of Winged: New Writing on Bees, an anthology of poetry, fiction, and essays on the relationship between humans and honeybees, benefitting pollinator conservation efforts. She manages her local community garden and loves a good old-fashioned potluck.
Our final judge Alice Fulton writes:
I’m happy to select “Yellow" as winner of the 2016 Janet McCabe Poetry Prize. I initially was attracted to the poem’s tone and imagery, which delicately suggest a mother’s hopes for her unborn child. It’s hard to avoid sentimentality with such a subject, but an important swerve toward the end saves this subtle, beautifully crafted work from an excess of sweetness. At the start, the speaker is sewing baby clothes and considering some “ordinary things” — dandelions, sunlight on the butter dish, cling peaches — that her child will experience in the world. These exemplars of yellow create a seductive materiality, but things darken as the speaker contrasts the utopian freedom of the womb to the confining garments she’s sewing and imagines the upheaval the baby will experience at birth. In the final tercet the connotations of yellow widen to imply betrayal, genocide, and apocalyptic disaster: “…The yellow / of Judas, yellow stars, yellowcake….” “Yellowcake,” a surprisingly rich choice, suggests nourishment, a comforting domesticity, but it’s also a uranium powder used in the preparation of fuel for reactors or weapons. With one gesture, the speaker’s optimism is conflated with her fear, and the trope of time, incubating throughout, is enlarged. These threads resonate in the powerfully understated last line where the mother’s sewing slows as if her needle were heavy with dread on behalf of her child who must enter such a grave new world."
You can read Yellow in issue 40, which releases this coming September.
Barbara Ellen Sorensen has a BA in English from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in creative writing from Regis University, Denver. She is former senior editor of the flagship publication of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, Winds of Change. Sorensen now contributes to the Tribal College Journal. Sorensen’s work has received nominations for the 2011 Colorado Book award, appeared on VerseDaily.com (2014), The Poetry Foundation’s website (2015), and on American Life In Poetry (2015). Our final judge Alice Fulton writes:"I respect the content of the poem so much. I especially like the way the ending reflects on the beginning, and the thoughtful, unsparing engagement with the difficulty of gifts."
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