Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award

I think often about what it means to live in the Information Age, particularly now at a time when getting news (or opinions or snapshots of your meal) seems to take precedence over accuracy or consequence. I think about what it means to bear witness – to decide, “I will stand with you. Watch with you. I will not let this be forgotten.” 

A part of me wants to share now about Darnella Frazier, and how George Floyd’s murderer would have gone free had it not been for her witness. 

I want to tell you about the Christmas that no one did end up standing in the kitchen with my Great Aunt Ruth, on what turned out to be the last night she made her mother’s famous biscuits, and now the recipe is lost to the family forever. 

What I need to tell you is this: the poet’s job is to bear witness. To focus our attention on things large and small – all that ultimately shapes us. The Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award, judged by Ashlee Haze,  is for poems of any form and style that address contemporary events or issues. Poems in this category will bear witness to that which concerns you, which disgusts or inspires, scares or emboldens, uplifts or fills you with despair. Our window on the world is bigger than ever. We have more information than we could ever need. What will choose to bear witness to? What will you not let us forget? 

Send your poems of up to 36 lines pinesongawards@gmail.com . Be sure to check out the adult contest page for a complete list of submission guidelines. 

That’s all from me, but do take a moment to read Haze’s bio before you go; check out the 2021 Bruce Lader winners in the 2021 Pinesong; and in lieu of a poem, I thought I’d share a review of Crossing the Rift, a collection of work by NC poets bearing witness to the tragedy of September 11th. 

Lumpkin out. 

Ashlee Haze is a poet and spoken word artist from Atlanta by way of Chicago. She is the host of Moderne Philosophy, an educational podcast for creatives and modern thinkers. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets, including work recently published in the May issue of Poetry Magazine. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Georgia State University and spends her time innovating ways to tell the stories not often told. 

Bloodroot Haiku Award

Each week, I’d like to take a moment to highlight an individual contest from this year’s Pinesong Awards. First up: The Bloodroot Haiku Award.

The contemporary English haiku is derived from the traditional Japanese form and is most commonly perceived as having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, featuring some image from nature. There are, however, a few questions: Does the English concept of a syllable correspond to what the Japanese form attempted to convey? How pertinent is the line count to the form; that is, can we have any number of lines that total seventeen syllables? How strictly do we have to adhere to a total of seventeen anyway? Short poems with lines of three, four, and three syllables are becoming more and more popular in English classrooms. I’ve personally encountered some six-eight-six delights, and both of these structures have borne the name haiku. And finally, can we call poems that follow this structure but aren’t about nature (or senryu) a type of haiku as well? 

Well friends, I have no definitive answers for the haiku conversation at large, but I will tell you what our Robert Moyer, this year’s Bloodroot Haiku Award judge will be looking for: 

Send your three-line poems of 10 – 20 syllables on any topic of your choosing to pinesongawards@gmail.com . Be sure to check out the adult contest page for a complete list of submission guidelines. 

That’s all from me, but do take a moment to read Robert’s bio before you go; check out the 2021 Bloodroot Haiku award winners in the 2021 Pinesong; and enjoy these five-seven-five offerings from Etheridge Knight. 

Lumpkin out. 

Robert Moyer lives in Winston-Salem, NC, where he was the local host for Haiku North America 2007 and 2019 as well as for three quarterly meetings of the Haiku Society of America. He has had work published in numerous journals, such as frogpond, Modern Haiku, bottle rockets, Heron’s Nest, Failed Haiku, Presence, acorn, and Sketchbook. He was a frequent contributor to Haiku News and had 27 poems included in their anthology. He has been included in a number of anthologies, including the ten-year Acorn anthology, Haiku 2021, and JAR OF RAIN, all “best of” collections. He also served as judge for the British Haiku Society contest in 2017.  He is the poet in residence at the Arts Based School, and host of the monthly Meetup session, HOW TO HAIKU.

Countdown to Contests

We are less than two weeks away from the start of our submission period! Have you already selected the poems you’ll be entering? Still working on those final edits? Wherever you are in the process, I hope you know how excited we are to receive your work.

If you’ve not had a chance to familiarize yourself with the rules for this year’s contests, please head over to the adult contest page to check those out. I want to point out here, that this year we are including sestinas in the Joanna Catherine Scott award (all traditional forms) instead of as a separate contest.

Speaking of the Joanna Catherine Scott award, I had the great privilege yesterday of attending a workship with the incomprable Crystal Valentine, where we spent a bit of time discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle One Art.

The villanelle is made up of five tercets followed by a quatrain, with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas; then in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines. Using capitals for the refrains and and lowercase letters for the rhymes, the form can be expressed as

A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2.

Though I’ve not yet successfully crafted one myself, the villanelle is one of my favorite forms to read. After you’ve had your fill of Bishop’s well known offering, try this one from Porsha Olayiwola.

I’d love to read a villanelle of yours – will you be submitting one for the contest ?

Lumpkin out.

An Introduction

This past Saturday, NCPS held our Fall 2021 meeting. We had amazing readings from the winners of our book awards and an open mic that was nothing short of breathtaking. It was also my very first fall meeting listening to the work with “Adult Contest Director ears,” and I left the meeting with a new found awe for the kind of talent we have here in Carolina – plus a dose of sympathy for the task our judges will have set before them at the start of the new year.

I’ve thought long and hard about what my first post to the Pinesong Awards blog should be: A favorite poem? A recap of a meeting? Just wait until just before the contests open and inundate with prompts and potential inspirations? Then I thought: How else will I honor my Xanga-Myspace-LiveJournal roots if not by fully introducing myself to this world of Pinesong Awards Blog Readers?

I am Ashley R. Lumpkin – “Milli” if you’ve known me around the many performance poetry circles in North Carolina – a writer and math teacher who calls Greensboro home. I believe that Nikky Finney is the greatest writer currently walking the earth, and that every Shonda Rhimes television show will come back around, if you give it the time and space to do so.

When Celestine asked me to take the reigns as director, I hesitantly accepted. I’ve not been a member of NCPS long. My approach to poetry is first musical, then lyric. The names and faces of our Carolina legends have not yet been integrated into my personal canon. I question the validity of classics. I do not yet know how that medley of characteristics will work together to aide me in this role, but as Saturday’s meeting drew to a close, I was certain that accpeting the position was absolutely the right thing to do.

My vision for the blog is simple: I seek to inform and inspire. Here, you will find information about the Pinesong Awards, their judges, the forms they allow – along with poems, prompts, and the occasional musings of their director.

For now, I’ll leave you with this prompt by poet Akeem Rollins:

(1) Pick a natural disaster (ex: wildfires, earthquare, tornado, etc). Take 5 minutes to write down every single word you can think of and/or find about this disaster.

(2) Pick an illness or condition you have or had and do the same. 5 minutes. List everything you can.

(3) Write a poem describing the disaster as your condition. Use as many words from both lists as possible. Bonus points if you make it a pantoum. Bonus bonus points if you consider this inspiration for your submission to the Priscilla Webster-Williams Health and Healing contest (or any of our other awards).

Lumpkin out.