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  • By John Reid
    Oct 15, 2009
    "It's Not Easy Being a Judge" A most attractively presented and produced book, "Across the Long Bridge" is an anthology of 133 poems (120 prize-winning and commended entries, plus 13 poems by the judges), luxuriously spread over 267 pages. As Chief Judge of both the Tom Howard Poetry Contest and the Margaret Reid Prize for Traditional Verse, I'm often accused of not being sufficiently serious. "These are grim times," I'm told, "so poetry should reflect the more profound issues of the day and not be squandered on the lightweight or less meaningful." I don't agree with this exclusive attitude at all. For me, poetry is all-inclusive. It may be serious; it may be comic; or anywhere in between. For me, the primary qualities of poetry are that it should sing to my soul, appeal to my mind and beguile my heart. A humorous poem has just as much right to win First Prize as a powerful interdict against some injustice. In other words, a poem may make me... More > laugh or cry. I will not negate a poem simply because it made me laugh, but I will try to measure how much I laughed against how much I cried. One of my favorite poems in this anthology is "Chefosaurus" by Graeme King (whose entry won a High Distinction): "A dinosaur went walking to see what he could munch: Perhaps a small triceratops would make a tasty lunch?" Still on the humor trail but in a more satiric vein is a short piece, "If Lions Were Smart", by Greg Schwartz (who won a Commended certificate). The opening lines: "If lions were smart, if they had human brains/They'd all look in mirrors and style their manes./Rather than hunting for food, and that's all/They'd hunt zebras for sport and hang heads on their wall." However, humorous entries are always in the minority in poetry contests. Inevitably, the judges find themselves torn between a "Does Anyone Know I'm Here?" (which won First prize for Daniel E. Speers) and "The Window" by Marie Delgado Travis (Second Prize) and "Stillborn" by Lynn Veach Sadler (Third Prize). There's often very little difference in quality between the major prizewinners. I greatly admire "Does Anyone Know…", but I have to admit my personal hankering for "The Window" ("from where we saw/the Third Avenue El/and fell asleep/to its sound."). This superbly constructed poem is so moodily yet reflectively nostalgic, I can read it over and over.< Less
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Product Details

Tom Howard Books
November 18, 2005
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.01 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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