Monday, December 31, 2018

Announcing 10th Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

10th Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

Deadline: February 28, 2019 (midnight)
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $150
Third Prize: $100

Complete Guidelines:

Spirit First is pleased to announce its 10th Annual Meditation Poetry Contest. Poetry submissions may be of any length and any style but must have a theme of Meditation or Mindfulness. Poems may reflect any discipline, any faith, or none. Poems must be previously unpublished. Poems not on the themes of meditation, mindfulness, stillness, or sacred silence will not be included in this meditation poetry event. 

Enter up to three submissions. Poems beyond three submissions will not be considered.

Please submit your poems by email unless you do not have access to the Internet. Poems will be accepted by U.S. Postal Service for those who do not have access to sending through the Internet. All others are requested to be emailed. Poems sent by U.S. Postal Service will not be returned. Poems must be received by February 28, 2019.
Please submit your poems all in one file or inside the body of an email (rather than three poems in three separate files). Please do not send your poem(s) in a PDF (formatting and spacing are lost if your poem is sent in a PDF).  Be sure to include the author's name, address, telephone number, and email address. There is no cost to enter this contest. Submissions must be received no later than February 28, 2019. Please note: We are sorry to say we are unable to provide personal evaluations/reviews of individual poems. 
Winners will be announced on or around June 30, 2019. Winning poems will be published on the Spirit First website at www.spiritfirst.org, the Spirit First Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thespiritfirstgroup, the Spirit First blog at http://spiritfirst.blogspot.com/, and in a Spirit First newsletter (authors retain full rights to their poems).

How to submit:

By email: send to meditate@spiritfirst.org.

By U.S. Postal Service (for those unable to send by email), send to the following address:
          Spirit First Poetry Contest
          PO Box 8076
          Langley Park, MD 20787

To all our participating poets, thank you for your beautiful words. We look forward to reading your poems!

Join us!
Our website:  www.SpiritFirst.org

Monday, July 02, 2018

2018 1st-Place Winner G.G. Silverman


Meditation at the Waterfall of the Gods
by G.G. Silverman

We wondered how it would change us,
   the roar of an ancient river
as it hurtled from a cliff’s edge
        and raged into the mist.
           We stood there for mere
                moments, snapped a
            photo we’ll forget later,
        because eternity
             cannot be captured.

We cannot fathom
how this precipice was
        graven by aeons, how
    this river’s cold bed
          cradled its
child for
        seven thousand years,
what motes we
    are under the sky.
 
                Gods were once brought here
             to drown, and so we
        brought our sorrows,
            made paper boats
                 of grocery lists and death
        notices and overdue
                bills, then
            set them free on the river.

The waters hummed
        the secret
                 to everything,
   
                   surrender,
       surrender,
                 surrender.



G.G. Silverman practices walking meditation in wild or natural settings as frequently as she can. Her favorite place to experience nature’s raw power is the Pacific Northwest coast. G.G.'s writing was most recently nominated for the Best Small Fictions anthology, among other honors, and has appeared in Corvid Queen, So to Speak feminism + language + art, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Iron Horse Literary Review, The Seventh Wave, Iconoclast, Ellipsis Literature & Art, and more. She is currently at work on a short story collection as well as her third novel. She is also a visual artist and practices improvisational theater, which she believes is another form of connecting more deeply to one’s inner truth. To learn more, please go to www.ggsilverman.com.

2018 2nd-Place Winner Levi Andrew Noe


A Long Journey By Sea
by Levi Noe

From the helm
       of this pitching ship
   I cry to Poseidon and 
Yahweh, Jesus,
       Buddha, Krishna, Kali
              Allah, Vishnu, Anu, Gaia,
anyone! who’s listening:
                    How far
                            have I to go?
                      How much
                            have I to give?
                Until You 
                   will let me in.
I have all the charts,
      I followed the stars, I’ve read
           all the Words about the journey.
                             I should be There by now,
                     but still the Undying Land eludes me.
            Could You send me a sign?
                             A dove,
                       like You did for Noah.
                                                     A dream,
                                like You gave Gilgamesh.
                                    It seems all You’ve given me 
                        are these questions.     
              Is it learning or
                        unlearning 
                   that will stop the storm?
       Is it praying ceaselessly
               or pure silence
                          that will bring peace
                    to these waves?
 I assumed the deathless
                         was my destiny, but 
                                       I haven’t received an invitation.
                                                Supplies are nearly dry.
                                   A storm is coming and I’m still waiting. 
                  I am the only voice I hear.
                        I’ve tried everything
                                    apart from drowning.
                        Is that how this separation ends?
             By breathing the ocean in. 




Levi Andrew Noe was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He is a writer, wanderer, yogi, entrepreneur, and amateur oneironaut. His flash fiction collection Rain Check was published in August 2016 from Truth Serum Press. His flash fiction, short stories, creative non-fiction and poetry can be found in Connotation Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, and Literary Orphans, among many others. Levi is the editor in chief and founder of the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival Audio Art Journal.
Twitter:
@LeviAndrewNoe,
                @RockyMtnRevival

Website:
http://leviandrewnoe.com

2018 3rd-Place Winner (Tied) Mike Joachin


Only This
By Mike Joachin

Live the actual moment.
Only this actual moment is life.
 – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Only this actual moment
is warm air on the hairs
of our neck, swaying
each like grass in a
summer breeze.

Only this actual moment
tugs at skin like a hungry
child, craving nothing more
than acknowledgement.

The chance to walk hand
and hand with our thoughts,
follow the map of the
heartbeat, breathe in what
we breathe.

What else deserves to
swallow us whole?

Other than what wakes
the senses. Gives life.
Is life. This actual
moment.


Mike Joachin currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife and two young children. Poetry has always been the natural way Mike expresses himself and tells stories. He is of Caribbean descent, where the art of storytelling is deep-rooted in the culture—this, perhaps, has a lot to do with his passion for poetry. Spirit First is honored to be the first major publication of Mike Joachin’s poetry.  

2018 3rd-Place Winner (Tied) Jeanie Greensfelder


Walking Meditation
by Jeanie Greensfelder

I leave the world and my worries,
walk the wood-mulch trail that shifts
to sand. Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh

said we’re just one step from the

kingdom of heaven. I say his mantra:
Oui, Oui, Oui, Merci, Merci, Merci.

Yes to going slow, feeling the breeze.
Thanks to eucalyptus trees
where migrant monarchs hang

one from another like beads on a string.
A kingfisher calls and circles her pond. 
At the bridge I inhale rain-fresh air

and note mallards, heads tucked.

A snowy egret lands, fans her wings,
and steps into the pond. Perfect stillness.

Time stretches. My mind quiets.
The egret ignores her ruffled feathers.
Focused, she waits for food to near.

Her pointed beak strikes, catches a fish.
And me?
I got what I came for.


Jeanie Greensfelder feels honored to have won Spirit First third place this year and in 2015. Her work has been published at American Life in Poetry, and Writers’ Almanac; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems, and Corners of the Mouth; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Kaleidoscope, Persimmon Tree, Solo Novo, If&When, and others. She is the author of Biting the AppleMarriage and Other Leaps of Faith, and I Got What I Came For. Jeanie serves as the San Luis Obispo County Poet Laureate, 2017/2018. A psychologist, she seeks to understand herself and others on this shared journey, filled, as Joseph Campbell wrote, with sorrowful joys and joyful sorrows. She lives on the central coast of California with her husband Andy. More poems can be seen at jeaniegreensfelder.com.

2018 Editor's Choice Award Matt Nagin


If We Are Doomed
by Matt Nagin

if we are doomed
i say embrace it
marry it
let it carry you
into verandas of
bliss.

if we are doomed
fall into it
this gentle blanket
array of fireworks
the hot night soaking
your shirt.

if this is the end
let the bullets cascade
and the bombs echo
but embrace it with
what you have
left to give.

Matt Nagin has been writing poetry since age sixteen—where poetry became a bit of a spiritual practice. Matt has always enjoyed the non-linear nature of poetry and believes in what Rimbaud called “a derangement of the senses” to obtain the unknown. In recent years, Matt’s poetry has been published in Antigonish Review, Dash Literary Journal, The Charles Carter, and Grain Magazine, among other markets. His first poetry book, Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight, was released in 2017 to very strong critical and reader reviews. Matt is also an award-winning filmmaker, comedian, and actor. More info at mattnagin.com.

2018 Special Category Award Winner David Monteith


Balloons: a haiku
by David Monteith

Like children holding
balloons on strings, we cling to
thoughts better set free

David Monteith stole a library book once in his life (but only once), a collection of poetry by Robert Graves. He hopes you'll forgive him. In his defense, it was pre-Internet, and he was desperate for poetry. In addition to Robert Graves, some of David’s other heroes include Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Brian Andreas, Rumi, and the classical haiku master, Issa. He draws on his experiences as a middle- and high-school teacher for inspiration and is currently working on his first children's book. When he's not writing, he loves taking care of other people's dogs, making earrings from comic book word bubbles, and doing Iyengar yoga.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Announcing Our 9th Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

Deadline: February 28, 2018 (midnight)
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $150
Third Prize: $100

Complete Guidelines:

Spirit First is pleased to announce its 9th Annual Meditation Poetry Contest. Poetry submissions may be of any length and any style but must have a theme of Meditation or Mindfulness. Poems may reflect any discipline, any faith, or none. Poems must be previously unpublished. Poems not on the themes of meditation, mindfulness, stillness, or sacred silence will not be included in this meditation poetry event.

Enter up to three submissions. Poems beyond three submissions will not be considered. Please submit your poems by email unless you do not have access to the Internet. Poems will be accepted by U.S. Postal Service for those who do not have access to sending through the Internet. All others are requested to be emailed. Poems sent by U.S. Postal Service will not be returned. Poems must be received by February 28, 2018.
Please submit your poems all in one file or inside the body of an email (rather than three poems in three separate files). Please do not send your poem(s) in a PDF (formatting and spacing are lost if your poem is sent in a PDF).  Be sure to include the author's name, address, telephone number, and email address. There is no cost to enter this contest. Submissions must be received no later than February 28, 2018. Please note: We are sorry to say we are unable to provide personal evaluations/reviews of individual poems. 
Winners will be announced on or before June 30, 2018, on the Spirit First website at www.spiritfirst.org. Winning poems will be published on the Spirit First website, the Spirit First Facebook page, the Spirit First blog, and in a Spirit First newsletter (authors retain full rights to their poems).

How to submit:

By email: send to meditate@spiritfirst.org.

By U.S. Postal Service (for those unable to send by email), send to the following address:
          Spirit First Poetry Contest
          PO Box 8076
          Langley Park, MD 20787

To all our participating poets, thank you for your beautiful words. We look forward to reading your poems!

Join us!

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 First-Place Winner--Jennifer L. Freed

Our 2017 First Place Winner is Jennifer L. Freed for her poem "At the Middle School Concert."

Jennifer L. Freed’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in literary journals and anthologies including Amsterdam Quarterly, the Common Ground ReviewThe Worcester Review, and Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry; in the medical journals JAMA and Chest; and in a chapbook, These Hands Still Holding, a finalist for the 2013 New Woman’s 
Voices prize. Years ago (before husband, before children), she taught English in China and in then-Czechoslovakia. She now lives with husband and children in Massachusetts. Her website is 
jfreed.weebly.com.



At the Middle School Concert
by Jennifer L. Freed

The seventh grade band squeaks
through its festive repertoire,
and the harried day is still wound tight
along my spine.
I am checking the time,
thinking about the sixth grade chorus
and the eighth grade strings
still waiting to play,
thinking about the list of To-Do
I have not yet done,
when, from the stage,
or the air, or the whisper
of another mother passing near,
comes the sense
of being
here.

All at once I see
how the small boy beating the drums
is wagging his red head, beaming. 
How the boy on trombone wears neon
green socks beneath his khaki slacks. 
How the girl with gold satin shoes
and sparkling pink tulle
waves as she raises her flute.
Another girl clicks her high heels like Dorothy. 
The band teacher waves his baton
and bounces with verve.
Every note is brimming
with gorgeous imperfection.
We are held, all
of us, in the light
of this
fragile
night.

2017 Second-Place Winner--Lawrence Kessenich

This year's Second Place Winner goes to Lawrence Kessenich for his poem "Healing."

Lawrence Kessenich
Photo by Joseph A. Cohen
Lawrence Kessenich, who has practiced Transcendental Meditation almost continuously since 1971, won the Strokestown International Poetry Prize in 2010. His poetry has been published in Sewanee Review, Atlanta Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and many other magazines. He has a poetry chapbook, Strange News, and two full-length poetry books, Before Whose Glory and Age of Wonders. Kessenich has also published essays; he had short plays produced at festivals in Boston, New York and Durango, Colorado; and his first novel, Cinnamon Girl, was published in September 2016. His website is www.lawrence-writer.com.

Healing
by Lawrence Kessenich

Tasting stillness and knowing that it was medicine.
- Roshi Joan Halifax

What we call stillness may be composed of
sea bird calls, waves shushing across sand,
the almost audible sparks of light dancing
on water. Even in the deepest stillness,
the heart beats, blood whooshes through the ears,

joints click as the limbs make small movements.

The still are steady as the earth on its axis,
their stillness a way of being, of interacting

with the world. Like a gyroscope balanced
on a string, a dervish spinning on a mountaintop,
an angel dancing on the head of a pin.

And what is healing but the restoration
of balance, that which is out of sorts sorting
itself out? When one tastes stillness, like warm
sweet milk settling the stomach, all that has
been troubling, disturbing, all that has made
one feel sick gently dissipates, and all

that’s left is being.  

2017 Third-Place Winner--Pat Wadsorth


Our 2017 Third-Place Winner is Pat Wadsorth for her poem "If."

Pat Wadsworth has been writing poems and stories, and keeping journals, since she learned to read and write. Writing about the joy, sorrow, beauty, and wonder of life is her way of staying balanced in good times and sane in bad ones. After retiring from a twenty-four year career working with high-risk youth and their families, Pat enrolled in writing classes at her local community college. Encouraged by teachers, friends, and family members to submit her work for publication, she took the plunge. Her poetry has appeared in Mind Magazine, The Voices Project, The Blue Heron Review, and Sliver of Stone.



If
by Pat Wadsworth

if we look closely
into each other’s eyes
we will see tiny magic mirrors

if we listen closely to other voices
with open hearts
we will hear echoes

and, if we reach out
with loving hands
we will touch ourselves

with holiness

2017 Special Category Award: Haiku--David Monteith

This year's Haiku Award goes to David Monteigh for his poem "paper lanterns."

David Monteith is a former high school teacher—he lived and taught in San Antonio for nearly 20 years. Now he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he is a journalist, a dog sitter, a facilitator, an Iyengar yoga practitioner, and a writer. He also runs an Etsy shop (Ex Libris Novum) where he sells earrings he makes out of comic book word bubbles. He loves playing with words. He's written three children's stories that haven't yet found a home. Last year he won a Banned Book Week writing contest with a story written in the style of 1001 Arabian Nights. “Paper Lanterns” is his first published poem.

paper lanterns
a haiku by David Monteith 

Breathe, then place your thoughts
like paper lanterns on the
river of your breath