AMY KITCHENER'S
ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS FDN.
P. O. Box 1821, Monterey, CA 93942-1821 USA

 
THE DIPLOEMAT
Volume XI, Number 4
News Letter
December 2012
of the World's most unique Literary Society
where we turn Scribblers into Scribes and Meeting the Muse is a way of life
Albert L. Baker, Webmaster
831-899-5887
amykitchenerfdn@hotmail.com
Wanda Sue Parrott, Editor

INSIDE

Challenge & Hinegardner Obituary... ... ...
The Poets' Page ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Book News & Tomeo I.D. Theft... ... ... ...
Contest: 2013 Senior Poets Laureate... ...
Contest:White Buffalo Poet Laureate... ...

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2013 White Buffalo Native American
Poet Laureate Contest


(click on this link or go to page 6)

Poetry Should be Fun

NATIONAL WINNERS IN REVIEW:

WHAT ARE GOOD POEMS REALLY ABOUT?

There are two kinds of poems as far as preferences go: Traditional aka Formalist (rhymed, metered, structured formats) and Non-traditional aka Free Verse (can be blank verse, prose poetry and experimental forms such as shaped poems). Our judges of the 2012 Senior Poets Laureate contest's national winners chose one poem from each category, Traditional and Non-traditional. You may read them at www.amykitchenerfdn.org In my personal opinion, every winning poem should have a message that can be explained in eight or fewer words, in simple language that can usually be summarized in a familiar old cliché. This is easier to say than do. So, let’s examine both top winners to shed light on what I mean..

The national winners were seemingly about entirely different subjects; however, good poems are layered like onions. Under the surface both were loving odes of praise and respect toward individuals who influenced the poets while they were young. Still deeper, they were autobiographical reflections of the poets themselves. John W. Crawford's 24-line tribute to Robert Frost, "The One Less Traveled By," is about Crawford, who was challenged by Frost to live by the old adages "Love thyself" and “Think for yourself.” This is the same truth Shakespeare embellished as: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

In pop music lyrics, Frank Sinatra summed up what Crawford's award-winning poem was really about in this line: “I did it my way.” Crawford is saying without blurting bluntly, "Thanks, Robert Frost, for inspiring me to follow my own heart (or let my conscience be my guide). It worked!"

William Childress's 31-line free verse "The Sorceress" is about the poet's dirt-poor aunt. But the deeper-layers show subtly in the change through which the poet himself goes in this coming-of-age poem. He matures from childhood innocent, in which he imagines his aunt as a sorceress, to a young man home from war who is fully aware of the bitterness of truth.

The mood that defines the first part of the poem could have turned to a "hope is lost" conclusion, but it didn't. Instead, true magic comes through when the veteran of war sits with his wrinkled old aunt in her tin shack as she dies by candlelight. Through poetic sorcery, "Love is blind" transforms to "Love is kind" which translates to the old "Love conquers all." Does every poem need to have a meaningful message? Yes, if it is going to stand the test of time and even become a great classic. Yes if it is going to win national awards in our contests.

If it takes more than eight words to explain a poem’s subtle message in trite philosophical terms, maybe it has no timeless universal meaning. For more about this topic, click here.

May the muse be with you.

Wanda Sue Parrott, Editor

For a printable copy of this page click on Page 1 pdf   or   CONTINUE TO PAGE 1a