2019 Poetry Contest

The Encounter invited all poets writing in English to submit up to 3 unpublished poems, related in some way to the theme, “Something to Start From.”

Our guest judge was author, professor and award-winning poet, Paul Mariani.

First Place

A Spell for Lamentation and Renewal
by Ned Balbo

A Spell for Lamentation and Renewal by Ned Balbo

Second Place

Mercy by the Sea
by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Mercy by the Sea by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Third Place

by Sydney Doyle

Reentry by Sydney Doyle

The poems were submitted via Submittable: Online Submission Management Software for the purpose of blind judging. The poets were asked not to include their names on the file names or within the documents. Submission deadline was December 2, 2018.

Something to Start From

We are at the end of an epoch and we feel the need to rediscover our identity and somehow start again. But, having abandoned traditions, challenged norms, and rejected authorities, we are left with nothing but ourselves to make sense of it all. With no blueprint, the present is full of unease and the future appears enigmatic.

We are uncertain of the meaning of our lives, and so often feel confused, alone and isolated. Our collective days are filled by the pressures of success and conformity, along with the fear of being left behind. Failure seems irredeemable, mercy impossible. So, we often look for scapegoats or ways to escape. But tribal belonging or artificial realities are poor substitutes for the certainties we have lost.

At the same time, this very unease reveals something in us. Something that feels the lack, aches for meaning, and recognizes the truth, like a tuning fork vibrating for its single, unmistakable note. Something that makes us long to be looked at, listened to, understood, forgiven, valued just because we exist. Something that perceives a promise even within these challenging times and urges us to respond, to say “Here I am!”, to seek justice, to build anew. An innermost, irreducible, decisive core marked by a stubborn expectation.

Has anyone ever promised us anything? Then WHY do we expect something?
— Cesare Pavese