Sorry, There will be no contest in 2018
2013: Michael Spring for Blue Wolf
2014: Katherine Soniat for The Goodbye Animals
2015: Sara Backer for Bicycle Lotus
2016: Ted Jean for Desultory Sonnets
2017: Darryl Lorenzo Wellington for Life's Prisoners
Editor's Choice Awards:
2014: Joan Colby fo Pro Forma
2015: Judith Arcana for Here From Somewhere Else
2016: Martin Willitts Jr. for Wire Fence Holding Back the World
and Gary Lark for River of Solace
2017: Sara Clancy for Ghost Logic
2016 Turtle Island Poetry Award
WINNER of the 2016 TURTLE ISLAND POETRY AWARD
for his chapbook DESULTORY SONNETS
He will receive $500 and his chapbook will be published in 2016.
Also, Congratulations to the
2016 EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD WINNERS:
MARTIN WILLITTS JR. for THE WILD FENCE HOLDING BACK THE WORLD
And GARY LARK for his chapbook RIVER OF SOLACE.
Each will receive $100 and their chapbooks will also be published in 2016.
RICHARD KING PERKINS II
2015/2016 BEST OF THE NET NOMINATIONS:
"The Book of Healing" by Katherine Soniat
"Planet, Houses and the Night Always Above Us" by Eric Paul Shaffer
"foraging goats near Lone Mountain, OR (a ghazal)" by Michael Spring
"sonnet recited in one long breath" by Ted Jean
"Before the Age of Twelve" by Debra Shirley
"River Bend" by Gary Lark
CLICK ON LINKS BELOW TO VIEW
Turtle Island Quarterly and announcements
2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award
Congratulations to SARA BACKER of Hollis, New Hampshire.
Her chapbook BICYCLE LOTUS
has won THE 2015 TURTLE ISLAND POETRY AWARD.
She will receive $500 and her chapbook will be published in 2015.
Also, Congratulations to JUDITH ARCANA of Portland, Oregon.
Her chapbook HERE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE
has won THE 2015 EDITOR’S CHOICE CHAPBOOK AWARD.
She will receive $100 and her chapbook will also be published in 2015.
Shortlisted Finalists (alphabetical by chapbook title):
ALL WEARINESS IS JUMPING OUT OF OUR BODIES by MARTIN WILLITTS JR.
BLESSED THINGS ENDED by RICHARD KING PERKINS II
LITTLE FISH by GARY LARK
NAMING THE TREES by JAMES DOTT
PILGRIMAGE IN A DROUGHT YEAR by ABBY DAVIS
An Introduction to Sara Backer's Bicycle Lotus:
Winner of the 2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award
by Jared Smith
There are a great many voices in this compact and fulfilling chapbook. There are men and women; predators and prey; coyote tricksters, frogs, skunks, geese, a water horse, "your own egret," and more. "So many boats and people!" as Sara Backer writes. And they all come together in one sweeping, complex and yet startlingly simple vision of unity. Even the frozen and lifeless elements that make up the bedrock of our planet and the fiery orbs that light our nights are a part of it. And Sara Backer does not separate herself from this unity, but sees herself in both dark moments and light as being of that unity.
This is an extraordinary collection of poems by an extraordinary poet.
The opening poem presents an exceptionally astonishing and lasting metaphor for the collection. Your Egret, the powerful, pure egret that asks entrance to the poet's opening world is seen up- close as being built of wires and dirty feathers and lice. Initially a flame of white purity, it fills its mouth and throat with frogs, slurping and bulging, filling itself with life-giving protein from the mud between its legs--and the reader is allowed to experience it all, nature's voice, like it or not in its indifferent give and take. It is there for the experiencing in its rawness, and only when the poet calls to it and tries to bring it close in order to own it, does its majesty vanish. Even in this opening poem, one finds that to understand the majesty of the wild you must experience it from both within yourself and outside of yourself--from the unity.
This powerful theme continues, while picking up additional narratives and layers of understanding. The mythical Water Horse appears in her next poem, up to its knees in the water we swim in, a part of our lives. In The Beholder of the Eye an assumed black dog, defined only by its description but certainly a creature of consciousness, observes and walks on a puddle of the water that horse might be drinking from and grows wary as that puddle freezes over and crystallizes into a solid sheet of ice and detritus that the poet struggles to capture in words on her computer, and describes as an eye--looking perhaps from what is larger and deadlier and more filled with life than anything we can understand?
And here two poems later, in The Eye of the Beholder, the poet pulls herself back for the first time from the wild by throwing poison created by mankind into a wasp nest so that "I won't fear the sting." This becomes a narrative of perception rather than conscious thought, and the first theme nears completion as Sara Backer breaks with her opening stylistic choice of lyric, visually rich poems to a thoughtful prose discussion over the quandary she is faced with by seeing all things--herself included--as one, and yet her need to assert herself as separate and as a predator among prey. "It's easy," she meditates, "to champion harmless herbivores like porcupines and deer, but protecting predators--especially ones that attack you--requires more commitment." And further "...I was a predator, too, with a need to defend myself and my nest. I chose to kill the queen."
This is not just a shifting of style or poetic craft, it is a shifting of speed and focus. It is the mark of a real master of her craft, demonstrating how to jar the reader's sensibility in order to renew experience and understanding. One is reminded here stylistically of the technique used in haiku and haibun--where each poem contains both vivid imagistic nonlinear thought in strict poetic meter and then a paragraph of meditation on those images and the thoughts that might but don't quite contain them, but the Japanese requirement of syllable count in the poems is of course here Americanized. And of course this is use of that technique for a whole segment of the collection, rather than within an individual poem, especially as it is used again. (This speaks eloquently for the collection itself being a poem in terms of vision, rather than a collection of poems, but I won't dwell on that.)
At this point alone, we have a very solid and stimulating collection of work, but there are many more discoveries to experience--many more layers and voices that come from within our interior and exterior lives. "The job is to make/us notice what is around us/yet does not revolve around us.// The job is never done" she writes in This is Just to Add. What is perceived and seen may be or it may not be: the experience alone determines it, as she finds in discourse with the trickster Coyote. "(Dude, get your tail out of my face!)" Her vision is keen, and she struggles to fulfill her understandings with it, but "above the fog where I might see the ocean//were my vision not scorched/by the giant needle splintered sun"--that hard disc of sun reflecting back the eye frozen on the forest floor. In accounting for the Trickster, one has to realize that all visions are equal in validity dependent on their view and point of view. "The truth of human experience is not one poem or the other, but both." A new layer of understanding takes form...and the collection goes onward.
In The Wolf Within, the poet tastes the wilderness and savagery within herself and recognizes its essentiality:
We've fought fifty years,
building invisible substance,
bleeding and scarring.
The wolfless don't understand
my one-handed battle to live.
No amount of kindness
And with that we move back into a domestic world, but one shaped with a recognition of the wilderness and savagery within us. "Don't feel any moral qualms! We enjoy eating ourselves!" Share in predation then, but do not exploit it. The poet now has a strong and yet slashing moral awareness--not qualms but an awareness--of social conditions within the domestic realm as well as within the wild since both are awake within her. She writes within the next poems scathing commentary on the Citizen Coma she finds our society in...of the death that comes over our citizenry when it loses awareness, and of how only that awareness can save us from the empty passageways that lie between "catheter and saline drip." We must not just name the animals and their places of habitat, she says, but know them. The wildness must take us by the scruff of the neck and bring us back, bring us to life, because nothing else will.
Okay, that's the gist of it, but I have never seen so much insight, understanding, passion, and fight packed into any chapbook before. This is what a chapbook should be all about--a precise and mind expanding voyage into a state of mind that could not be entered into through a longer work--and yet contains more than any work of similar size possibly could. Perhaps it is like the world it speaks of in that regard.
2014 TURTLE ISLAND POETRY AWARD:
THE GOODBYE ANIMALS
by Katherine Soniat
She received $500
and her chapbook will be published (hand stitched!) by FootHills Publishing.
Congratulations to JOAN COLBY
Her chapbook PRO FORMA
(runner-up for the 2014 Turtle Island Poetry Award)
is the WINNER of Turtle Island Quarterly’s
2014 Editor’s Choice Chapbook Award!
Her book will appear in 2014 by FootHills Publishing.
The 2014 Turtle Island Poetry Award Winner:
Runner-up: Joan Colby
Finalists (in no particular order):
Jeanine Stevens, Martin Willitts Jr., Debra Shirley and Al Ortolani
Honorable Mentions/ Semi- Finalists (in no particular order):
David Kann, Gary Lark, Zev Levinson, Rodney Nelson
Excellent group of chapbook manuscripts all deserving of an award.
It wasn't easy making an order.
But we forced our own hand in making it.
We applaud the Finalists and Honorable Mentions
whose manuscripts were all had a chance at this!
A FEW WORDS ON OUR SELECTION OF
KATHERINE SONIAT’S THE GOODBYE ANIMALS
from Jared Smith, August, 2014
In The Goodbye Animals, Katherine Soniat fashions a language drawn from stones, green leafy vegetation, the particles of our lives, and an awareness of the spaces as well as the intimacy between all things. She reaches out to touch that which is greater than we are, and in that finds her birth and identity—not in a naively self-supporting religious sense, but through the observations and insight of a master poet who incorporates the traditions, science, and custom of our 21st century world to understand our beginnings.
The poems composing this intricately and finely woven chapbook form a sequence that opens with the words of Octavio Paz, telling us—or in this case Katherine—to “speak to you in stone language/(answer with one green syllable”. And, oh, the language that pours forth within that syllable! The poems encompass our birth from the amniotic fluid of mother and of universe, the animals and plant life that share this ark with us before melting back into the ark as we do, the loves and lives of those we know and are of a part. They explore in passionate and often painful, reverential tones “the levels beyond my first floor ocean room…sliced from the first-hand world of chocolate sofas and perfume.”
Throughout, with her keen eye for imagery and wholeness of understanding, we experience intimately, the power and unity of all things animate and inanimate that are born as we are from the center of nova suns that spread their chemical trails and seeds across the frozen space of time until that unbearable darkness lands upon or forms some distant island where it can reflect back upon the light from which it came.
And the closing of the sequence is perfect. As the sequence draws toward its end we hear the deep, resonant
syllable echoing through us all from our beginnings:
Remember, my damp one, the way it feels when the power’s cut--/
balsam black your face featureless groundless and
inexplicable as my mouth where the ocean growls.
The final stanza of the final poem removes any doubt that this resonant syllable fills all life and matter
and is our essence:
One can look years for the right meaning of departure.
The dog howls after the car drives away.
He waits under the tree, his protest,
its own arrival.
WINNER OF THE 2013 TURTLE ISLAND POETRY AWARD:
by Michael Spring
Finalists: Sara Backer, Rodney Nelson, Pepper Trail, and Martin Willits, Jr.
Judged by the editors of Turtle Island Quarterly: David Bogue, Jared Smith, Lisa Wolf, and Jerry Brunoe.
Congratulations to Michael Spring of O’Brien, Oregon. His chapbook blue wolf was selected as the 2013 Turtle Island Poetry Award. He received $500 and his chapbook will be published by Dancing Moon Press of Newport, Oregon. It will be available in the Fall, 2013.
about blue wolf:
With the poems of blue wolf, Michael Spring creates a lyric terrain in which the borders between interior and exterior worlds dissolve, a place where “home is an invisible rope/ stretched tight// from one field to another,” where a beckoning round widow is “more mouth than eye.” In this magical realm, the poet—riding a pine tree’s top in a storm—tells us he’s “…simply traveling/ with the trees// thrashing into the numinous….” And we, his grateful readers, can travel with him.
Oregon Poet Laureate
The natural world comes very much to life in Michael Spring’s blue wolf. These taut poems are at once personal and universal, meditative and lyrical. The sacredness of nature is cross-stitched into human thoughts to form a quilt that covers us lightly in our bed of dreams.
author of Chaos is the New Calm
about the selected press:
Dancing Moon Press, based in Newport, Oregon, was founded in 1997. Our services include high quality production of book projects from manuscript through delivery of printed copies. We can provide detailed pre-production manuscript commentary, line editing, book design and formatting, cover design and production, author photographs, ISBN numbers and registration in Books in Print and the Library of Congress, as well as bar codes. Clients can choose the specific services to meet their specific needs. Dancing Moon Press can produce all types of books -- paperback, hardcover, and eBook. We like to take on odd book projects that would normally slip through the cracks of the publishing industry. And we specialize in helping first-time authors. Our books are printed on high quality paper stock, with scuff-free gloss or matte laminated covers. For information or estimates, contact owner Carla Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-574-7708, or through www.dancingmoonpress.com.