Ruminate Magazine is thrilled to share with you the winners of the 2021 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize! The winning pieces were selected by our final judge, Matthew Olzmann. Look for these poems in our 2021 Winter issue which releases early December. You can subscribe now to receive Issue 61.
Arah Ko is a writer from the Big Island of Hawai'i. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Sidereal, Rust+Moth, Grimoire, Maudlin House, and Hawai'i Pacific Review, among others. She is the runner up for the 2020 Fugue Poetry Prize and the recipient of a Luci Shaw Fellowship and a Lilly Graduate Fellowship. Arah is a current MFA candidate in creative writing at Ohio State University where she serves as Art Editor for The Journal. When not writing, she can be found making dumplings from scratch or correcting her name pronunciation.
Matthew Olzmann says:
"I love the movement and temporal sophistication of this poem. How there’s an initial stillness—as the speaker focuses us on a single object—that then shifts into a historic expansiveness as, through the fish eyes, we feel the scale of memory and the scope of the speaker’s grief. The scars on bare feet, the cumulative anxiety of 'each tragedy made small / as short grained rice,' the present 'ballooning / until the future and past touch,' and the voice of the ancestors all combine to give this poem a sense of simultaneity, realms of feeling unfolding and converging across time."
Second place: “For the Forced Amaryllis in My Lockdown Living Room” by Christine Swint
Christine Swint's first poetry collection is Swimming This (2015) with FutureCycle Press. A former high school Spanish instructor and college writing instructor, she writes about pilgrimage, poetry, and art at Balanced on the Edge, https://balancedonedge.blog. She holds degrees in English and Spanish from the University of Georgia, a master's in Spanish from Middlebury College, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Georgia State University.
Matthew Olzmann says:
"This poem’s rush of joy and exuberance are quite intoxicating, but there’s also a richness in the way those emotional qualities are complicated both by the setting (a pandemic lockdown) and the points of sensory contrast throughout the poem (the flare of the blossom against the 'wan light,' petals scrolling from a 'dark throat,' sunbeams softened by that scrim of pines). I applaud this poem’s tonal complexity, and how its celebratory reach for hope also creates a space for a type of quiet mystery as well."
Jane Medved is the author of Deep Calls To Deep (winner of the Many Voices Project, New Rivers Press 2017) and the chapbook Olam, Shana, Nefesh (Finishing Line Press). Recent essays and poems have appeared in The North American Review, The Cider Press Review, The Normal School, The Seneca Review and The Tampa Review. She is the winner of the 2020 RHINO translation prize, and her other translations of Hebrew poetry can be seen in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cajibi and Copper Nickel. She is the poetry editor of the Ilanot Review, and a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv.
Matthew Olzmann said:
"This poem is a surprising and poignant meditation on naming, agency, and identity. I admire it for the way it twists away from and into its primary conceit, how the poem organizes itself around a parallel between the serpent and the self, then adding layers of figurative resonance with each new turn."
Brian Holmes, “Patient Recovery Intake”
Saleem Hue Penny, "To Give Uplight"
Suphil Lee Park, “Plato and So-and-So Screamed Flee for God's Sake, But”
Jed Myers, “Terrified Tremolo Hymn”
Bethany Swann, “Adjacent to Light”
Margaret Wack, “To the Future Citizens of Ruin and Promise”
Thank you to all who entered our 2021 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize!
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