Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

"Your Favorite Poet and Poem" Contest

Friday, 12/9:  We’ve got a great start here, and thank you to those who said they’re working on their posts now! Please jump in! 

Hello, Poets and lovers of poetry (and the rest of you out there)!

From Dec. 7 – 14, 2011 we’re having a crazy contest. To win, you must provide us with the most awesome answer to a few questions:

Who is your favorite poet?

What is your favorite poem?


Now, a cool thing about this contest is that your favorite poem may be a stand-alone you discovered — not necessarily by your favorite poet. And the answer to the question “Why?” is the critical piece. Why did you choose this poet? Why this particular poem? What is it that resonates with you, or just won’t let go?

UPDATE:  Try to keep your responses to a few paragraphs. That said, if you have strong feelings and more words to say, consider whether you’d like to do a guest post on our blog to expand and  share your thoughts.

We anticipate serious arm-wrestling and shouting by the end, as we select the ONE set of responses we feel best captures the essence of why we write, what moves us, creates unforgettable imagery . . . and we’d like your help to drive us nuts in this process. The winner will receive a copy of Lifelines, mailed to your house.

And, if you have a blog or website and would be interested in connecting to us or spreading the word, please let us know. We’re starting a blogroll.

So — thank you for reading this, and we hope you will have some fun and enter our contest.


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12 thoughts on “"Your Favorite Poet and Poem" Contest

  1. Michele, I did actually remember my favorite poem (or one of them), but, alas, I’ve had only one cup of coffee, so it’s slipped my mind again. I do really like Lewis Carroll — love the silly humorand the word play. I can still recite a couple of stanzas of Jabberwocky from memory. ‘You Are Old, Father William,” is another favorite.

    Oh, yeah, and the Purple Cow by Gelett Burgess.

    And the Ogden Nash one:

    Reflections on Ice Breaking

    Candy is Dandy
    but liquor is quicker.

    Just to be clear, I am not entering the contest.

  2. Ruth Hill on said:

    I treasure all poets. They are the “treasure-makers,” the alchemists.
    My lifetime favorite poem is Ted Kooser’s “Deer Bride.”
    Using an active moon to unveil a scene of incredible beauty, the poem was succinct with a stunning ending.
    The final word “caution” is a strong contrasting jump from concrete to abstract, from objectivity to insight. The scene appears peaceful, but at the last word, reality sets in. There is danger from wolves, hunters, or mating. It is a singular word that does it all. As a climax, it captures the entire scene, and summarizes the overall mood, describing ALL deer, ALL females, ALL women, ALL fathers with daughters, ALL prey or game. This word is so effective, it can refer to any source of protection, be it spiritual or actual, as the attitude of a real or imagined father deer, or of the female deer, or even as the source of “deerness.”
    In the poem, the last word sets up tension between predator-prey, sexual tension, and a potentially violent challenge to protective fatherhood. It can refer to the turning of generations between parents and mates, and entrance into adulthood. This infers the observer’s love and value for this young female. Who is the observer? Is it the poet? Is it us? Is it the father deer? Is it a suitor? Or is it just the moon?
    For me, the last word was a surprise, emotionally overwhelming. The hard sounding and capitalized “C,” with the meaning of “careful!” snapped me back to reality. I wondered if I had actually been in those woods or not. Yes, I was there. In fact, I have never left. This poem has become a spiritual refuge for me. I keep rereading it.
    I have spent my whole life in the woods watching deer, and have many wonderful scenes in my mind. This poem gave me a deep experience more beautiful than any actual scene I have ever encountered.

  3. P’nawn da Michele and Co,

    That is Welsh for good afternoon. My favourite poet is Keats who could tell a Romantic story with realistic evocations of character and motive, weather and the season, I am thinking of St Agnes’s Eve. Keats loved the workings of the brain and imagination, the shrine for melancholy to his mind was “The wreathed trellis of a working brain”, his could be a bare, bleak reality but never reductively, Keats had faith in human potential. He knew the scientific ideas of his time and was also moved unutterably by beauties like a nightingale’s song which got him thinking and writing about both human sadness and human joy: “Fled is that music, do I wake or sleep?” Keats was attentive to human frailty and mortality and believed our best hopes come from intense sensory feelings that inform and inspire our imaginations, and powers of thinking, he believed God gave us brains to use as sensitively and creatively as we could, there are no limits on food for thoughts if we are to fulfill ourselves. Nor is fulfillment limited, it extends to the broadest reaches of our imaginations. Please excuse my Brit spelling!

    My favourite poem to date is Berck-Plage by Sylvia Plath because it is vivid and as open as the skies above the beach, open and exposed to a pitiless inexorable universe. Plath’s was an active, rampant misery that she recorded with unsparing control and merciless dissection, her misery colours and sharpens her evocation of a death and a funeral, talking of children after something with hooks she says: “And my heart too small to bandage their terrible faults.” Plath never summarises or dismisses other people, their humanity is evoked in a blue, eerie light concentrated on their frailty, the pale girls selling ice cream or people subsumed by their bodies: “A crest of breasts, eyelids and lips”. Like the work of Keats, Plath’s thoughts and imagination are limitless though horribly focussed to the extent of excluding the grubby little kindnesses we offer each other. All this, in her use of language, metaphor and image comes across directly without douceur, no seat belts or air bags with Plath her impact is like a head on collision. But Plath knew herself, she never spills over with neediness or mess, she was an example of how to evoke terrors but control them. I’d call that dispassionate and scientific, qualities I admire in both arts and sciences.

    I should like to arrange links between our websites, my address is

    Nos da, Anne Rees.

    Lewis Carroll whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson has been my favourite poet since early 2007 when I began to get overwhelmed with the passion to work with pen.
    I choosed Lewis Carroll because his poetry often contained word play and a mixed of creativity – my major phrase for defining literature.

    Turtle Soup by Lewis Carroll is my favourite poem.
    Because it prompted me to wrote a poem ”Ekpang Nkukwo” about my favourite food which has grown to promote the Ibibio and the African culture in general – the actual reason behind my willingness to be a writer.

    The first draft of the first piece Lewis Carroll wrote as a writer was not without a pothole, yet he ended as a splendid writer. The first draft of the first piece I wrote as a writer was rubbish, but I have a dream that I will end with no word in the class of splendid good enough to describe my writing prowess.

  5. Michele on said:

    wow! what a great start to this contest! Thank you, Ruth, Anne, and Kufre, for starting us off with a high bar. And Margaret, too — though as one of the Poetic Muselings, she can’t be an official participant in the contest. We challenged each other to share our choices this week, too, so watch for ours.

    I’m going to make a list of the poems and poets identified here, and explore them. I’d love to also find the story behind each of the poems — from the poet’s intention. What we’re doing here is sharing that story as readers of the work — the context, texture, meaning, and emotions we take with us.

    Thank you!

  6. Favourite poet: Seamus Heaney, because he writes with a deep sensitivity to humanity and human emotions, which comes through in all his poems without ever becoming maudlin. He also has a variety of poetic styles, some of which almost come close to poetic sounding descriptions more than anything. I never ever get bored reading his work, even his long poems, which is amazing because usually (with a few classic exceptions e.g. The Raven) I get bored really quickly with long poems. He uses subtle rhymes and utilises sound SO well in his poems. He also writes with a love for the beauty of nature which I appreciate greatly.

    My favourite poem is also by Seamus Heaney, and is the one which made me start paying attention to his work a bit more: It’s called Anahorish. It is my favourite because, as a lover of language, I love the way he calls attention to the sounds of the word itself to bring out its meaning. It is a short poem, full of passion for a place the narrator clearly loves and holds dear. The images are captivating and draw you in from the start right to the very end, and you end up loving this place called Anahorish just as if you had lived there yourself.

  7. Pingback: The Poetry of Pink « Poetic Muselings

  8. Tom Spencer on said:

    My most favored poet is Ogden Nash, a twentieth century poet that made social statements that impacted the world through humorous poetics. Reading these poems as a eighth grader in the fifties brought me to the world of poetry writing and close observation of the society that I was a member. I believe that his Simple Atom poem was the most profound that I have ever read or ever will read.

    To smash the simple atom
    All mankind was intent
    An soon the atom
    May return the compliment

    A simple statement with profound implications of responsible actions that mankind has to answer for the rest of time. Action has reaction the poet is charged to expose both of these, in my opinion.
    Sincerely Submitted by Tom Spencer

  9. Michele on said:

    (posted for Edward)

    Thank you for this contest. I enjoy the opportunity to share these ideas with you.

    Edward Harsen

    — Who is your favorite poet?
    Czeslaw Milosz:
    For the depth and concretion he brings to modern letters; for spirituality and humor; for variation; for sheer brutality and love. Milosz brings a almost unrelenting desire to be heard, to be known, and at the same time the insouciance of the novelist, the long stride of composition that is bricklaying in it’s recognition of the burden of time.
    — What is your favorite poem?

    Fourteener 279
    (Please help me get this pig, dear Lord, into my truck)

    Please help me get this pig, dear Lord, into my truck.
    Like Jesus, he senses the coming end; unlike Him,
    The pig’s exhausted us both with flailing. My hands bleed
    From the scrap-wood ramp and sides of the truck bed.
    The rope leash burns my flesh. My plan, God, was food
    For family and fold, the head and feet for the poor. But Satan,
    It seems, is breathing hot stink at me. The pig braces,
    Digs four hooves in, and stares. I’d gotten him half way up,
    Tied him, then put my shoulder to him. He kicked my tooth
    Loose, Lord. My eyes watered. Blasphemy had its way
    With me. Now, covered with muck, almost broken, I pray:
    Help those who suffer most first. I’ll wait, catch my breath.
    Then, please forgive me, and grant one small miracle
    Father: Get this pig in my truck to take to slaughter.

    Douglas ‘Woody’ Woodsum

    — Why?
    This is such a meaningful prayer, such an aspiration. There is humor and desperation in the sense, there is a compelling voice, the necessary economy and brilliant execution. This poem clearly needs to be said, the speaker needs to be heard. Nothing is missing from the recitation, and the music is beautiful. The familiarity of the matter and the clarity of the form make this poem ring like a single bell. I would want everything I write to be this sufficient.

  10. Michele on said:

    (posted for Eileen — Eileen attached a poem she wrote, inspired by her favorite poem. Watch for it to be posted on our site soon.)


    My favorite poet is Don Blanding.

    My favorite poem is “Vagabond’s House” by Don Blanding.

    I was introduced to Blanding’s work by my High School Creative Writing teacher, Juliette Gibson, in 1952. His work
    is lyrical and so descriptive that I feel transported to his settings.
    “Vagabond’s House” particularly grabs me for it’s rhythm and it’s marvelous detail. It makes me want to live in that house. I can smell it’s exotic scents, feel it’s power, see the crowded fullness of it’s rooms, sense the sensuality of Blanding.
    So, when I bought my first very own house after my divorce, I wrote a poem about it after the style of “Vagabond’s House”

    Thanks for this contest!

    Eileen Dawson Peterson

  11. My favorite poet is Emily Dickinson. My other faves are Rilke, Yeats, Sexton, Langston Hughes, and Walt Whitman. (I’m not entering the contest, btw) I love Emily’s poetry because she says so little in such few words, and so beautifully. Here is one of her poems and one of my favorites:

    The Brain

    The brain is wider than the sky,
    For, put them side by side,
    The one the other will include
    With ease, and you beside.

    The brain is deeper than the sea,
    For hold them, blue to blue,
    The one the other will absorb,
    As sponges, buckets do.

    The brain is just the weight of God,
    For, lift them, pound for pound,
    And they will differ, if they do,
    As syllable from sound.

    ~Emily Dickinson

    Good poetry has something extra in it, more than the words themselves, some magic that defies analysis and dissection. This poem has that in spades!


  12. Posted for Tereza:

    Dear Anne

    At first I did not want to share this with anyone, but as I intend to use the poem, sometime in the far future, to illustrate some paintings I thought it might be of interest.

    Firstly my favourite poet is Shakespear. I happen to be very lucky to be born on the 23rd of April which is his birthday, and death day, as well. Hey, I would love to die on my birthday as he did.. what a way to go.

    Anyway if you want to call it a poem I love, have always loved, Shakespear’s Sonnet 116.

    Please to googel it up and read it. It is wonderful, all about true love. I loved it before I met Graham and had gone though a marriage that had not folowed the lines of Sonnet 116. Used that sonnet to tell Graham how I felt about him, and by Gods grace we were able to emulate the meaning of the poem during our 24 years of knowing each other.

    I dont know how to cut and paste, so please would you do that for me. Add William Shakespear’s Sonnet 116 under here.

    And when you read it, think about it, think about marriage, think about mature love that goes past youth and sex, and think about my beloved Graham, gone from me, but still loved deeply.

    Yours most sincerely.


    Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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