Monday, October 03, 2016

Announcing Spirit First Poetry Contest 2017

Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

Deadline: January 31, 2017(midnight)
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $150
Third Prize: $100

Complete Guidelines:

Spirit First is pleased to announce its 8th 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 Poems must be previously unpublished.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 be disqualified in the first round.

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 January 31, 2017.
Please submit your poems all in one file or inside the body of an email (rather than three poems in three separate files). 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 January 31, 2017. 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, 2017, 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!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

2016 First-Place Winning Poem

First-Place Winner: Building a Brace by Joe Cottonwood 
Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. He is the author of nine published novels, a book of poetry, and a memoir. His novels for adults include Famous Potatoes (1978) and Clear Heart (2009). His novels for children and young adults include Quake! (1995) and The San Puerco Trilogy (1990-1996). Joe Cottonwood's 2013 memoir, 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses, based on his experiences as a contractor, carpenter, plumber, and electrician, is available electronically and in print—readers and reviewers have praised its humor and authenticity. Joe lives in La Honda, California, where he built a house and raised a family. More about Joe at http://www.joecottonwood.com/.

I am Building a Brace
by Joe Cottonwood

I’m a carpenter. There’s a mindfulness of craft—of any manual labor, actually—if you open yourself to it.

I am building a brace for the front porch
of my brother who is on the other side
of that door listening with headphones
to a recording of Chinese poetry

(in Mandarin, which he understands)
while he is dying, slowly,
brain cell by brilliant brain cell
in that rocking chair
whose joints are creaking,
coming undone.

He no longer remembers his phone number
or how to count change at the grocery store.
He is in denial of any problem
but the crack in the porch grows wider
millimeter by millimeter
so out here in the rain
I set four-by-fours upright as posts,
then I jerk four-by-eights as beams
     lifting on my shoulder
     held by my hands     transferred through my spine
     pushing with my legs
     anchored by my feet
as the useless joists of the deck
drop termite shit onto my eyebrows
like taunts of children:
nya nya you can’t fix this.
But I can brace it for a while.

Long enough, at least
for my brother to forget ten languages.
I will repair that rocking chair.
I will change his sheets,
install grab bars in the shower
because he’s my brother.
I won’t let his porch collapse
out here in the rain.
I simply won’t.

Holding a baby is a window to meditation.

2016 Second-Place Winning Poem

Second-Place Winner Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press) and Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ publications). Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including InkwellQuaker Life, St. Anthony Messenger, Christian Science Monitor, Soundings Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, Imitation Fruit, Connecticut River Review, and Pirene's Fountain. Jacqueline Jules is also the author of 30 books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, Sarah Laughs, and Never Say a Mean Word Again. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com. Jacqueline is a previous winner in our Spirit First annual poetry contest, winning first place in 2014 for her poem "To Be a Gold Droplet Floating." 

Mirrored Light
by Jacqueline Jules

The moon’s light
is only an illusion,
a reflection of the sun,
shining beyond sight.
Yet each month,
I watch a slim crescent
wax to a brilliant orb
and consider
how luminous
my life would be,
if I could mirror light
from the heavens

like that.

2016 Third-Place Winning Poem

Our 2016 Poetry Contest Third-Place winner is Arlene Gay Levine for her poem "Marigolds."

Arlene Gay Levine, author of 39 Ways to Open Your Heart: An Illuminated Meditation (Conari Press) and Movie Life (Finishing Line Press), has had poetry and prose appear in many venues, including in The New York Times, in an off-Broadway show, and on radio. Her poetry is frequently anthologized. She lives with her husband in New York City where she tends a garden of words, roses, and herbs. Learn more at http://www.arlenegaylevine.com/.


Marigolds
by Arlene Gay Levine

There are days when nothing works.
Not forgiveness, not gratitude, not

even an excursion into the silence,
inside, which currently sports a
“Do Not Disturb” sign.

No, nothing works.
Quirks and quandaries cut
like knives while the dismal
drone of the daily quotidian
beats a bad rhythm

in your fragile heart
yearning to stay present,
accepting…well,
like I said –
it doesn’t work.

Yet amidst the sludge of such
dark sky thoughts, twirling your
life round to the ground like the
spiral of a falling feather, you
sense a nudge, happen to look up

and see that pot of marigolds,
you know, the ones you planted
in the hopes that the sun of
their faces would shine you
back to the bright side of now


and it does. 

2016 Editor's Choice Award

Editor's Choice Award for our 2016 Poetry Contest goes to Jon Wesick for his poem "Meditation Instruction."

Jon Wesick is the author of the collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom; he hosts San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series; and he is an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. Jon has published over 300 poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Pearl, and Slipstream. He has published almost 100 short stories, and in 2015, “Visitor” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts.

Meditation Instruction
by Jon Wesick

Even if an A-frame of chicken bones
is all that’s left of your last meal
and the executioner will come for you soon,
settle your awareness in the here and now.

Even if the turkey is still raw
ten minutes before the banquet,
Even if you lost the winning lottery ticket
and your future prosperity tumbles with pants in the dryer,
practice the here and now.

Even if your joke about the porn star
brought a grimace to the pastor’s lips,
Even if a fart loud as an air horn
erupted at Toastmasters,
let waves of awareness return you to the here and now.

Even if your neighbor uses your lawn as his dog’s toilet,
Even if that SUV takes two parking spaces,
Even if you obsess over your upcoming scene in Tarantino’s film,
Even if your Nobel Prize acceptance speech is tomorrow,
let your mind be a redwood rooted in the here and now.

Even if a naked Angelina Jolie (or Brad Pitt)
calls you from the bedroom,
Even if a new Lamborghini gleams in the driveway
and the keys are in your pocket,
let your mind be an immovable mountain in the here and now.

Even if you fantasize this immovable mind
will make you an action hero,
Even though this poem is only a metaphor
and such a mind is impossible,
Even though Einstein proved that now does not exist,

your here and now are enough. 

2016 Special Category Award--Haiku

Our Poetry Contest 2016 has added a Special Category Award—Haiku, and the winning entry is Awareness ~ Zen Haiku by E.B. Littlehill. 

E.B. Littlehill is a former journalist and marketing communications writer. After being downsized from her corporate communications job during the Great Recession (she is still trying to figure out what was so great about it), she started a new career as a freelance event photographer. In 2014, she began a Tumblr blog of poetry and photographs called Smoke Signals from the Hill. She recently reached 800 followers. All but a handful are complete strangers. Her poem, “Instagram Photos” was chosen for inclusion in the Montclair Write Group Sampler 2016. Her first book of poetry, See the Dragons ~ A Collection of Zen Haiku, is currently being considered for chapbook publication. Read more at http://smokesignalsfromthehill.tumblr.com/. The Spirit First 2016 Meditation Poetry Contest was the first poetry contest she ever entered.



Awareness ~ Zen Haiku
by E.B. Littlehill

I am awareness
Secrets of the universe
Are all inside me

Monday, December 14, 2015

Seventh Annual Poetry Contest

Annual Spirit First Poetry Contest

Deadline: February 29, 2016
First Prize: $200
Second Prize: $150
Third Prize: $100

Complete Guidelines:

Spirit First is pleased to announce its Seventh 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.

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 Internet access. All others are requested to be emailed. Poems sent by U.S. Postal Service will not be returned. Poems must be received by February 29, 2016.
Please submit your poems all in one file or inside the body of an email (rather than three poems in three separate files). 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 29, 2016. 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, 2016, 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 without Internet access): 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!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

First-Place Winner: "Soul Mate" by Ginna Wilkerson

Ginna Wilkerson has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from University of Aberdeen. Her first poetry collection, Odd Remains, was released in 2013. Currently Ginna is making a transition from poetry to prose, working on mixed media art, and looking forward to residencies in Canada and Finland in 2015. Her work can be seen on her website at www.ginnawilkerson.weebly.com.


Soul Mate
by Ginna Wilkerson

She lives
underneath my closed eyelids,
in the bones of my fingers,
the curve of my elbow
and the soles of my feet.

She is five years old and thirteen,
seventeen and twenty-five,
thirty-three and forty-seven.

She knows why I named my doll Fingernail;
why I cried most days in eighth grade.
Why I thought  - for a week or a month -
that I wanted to marry a drummer
instead of going away to college.
She remembers how
I refused to leave the town I said I hated,
and move to the city
to dance on Broadway.
She still feels the agony of childbirth
and the complicated joy of motherhood.

She was in that pub
when I met a spell-weaving woman
who almost wrecked my world,
and she watched
as the love of my life
walked through a restaurant door
and into my world -
in that same hated small town.

I took Her with me when I fell in love,
moved on, and found satisfaction in living.

When I die,
she is the one who will rest in peace, 
soar away into spirit, 
and meld with the fabric of the universe. 

Second-Place Winner: "Midsummer Meditation" by David Allen Sullivan

David Allen Sullivan’s first book, Strong-Armed Angels, was published by Hummingbird Press, and three of its poems were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a multi-voiced manuscript about the war in Iraq, was published by Tebot Bach. A book of translation from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet was published in 2013, and Black Ice, about his father’s dementia and death, is forthcoming from Turning Point. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his love, the historian Cherie Barkey, and their two children, Jules and Mina Barivan. He was awarded a Fulbright, and taught in China for one year (yesdasullivan.tumblr.com). His poems and books can be found at http://davidallensullivan.weebly.com/index.html.


Midsummer Meditation  
by David Allen Sullivan

Make of yourself a gourd.
Dry yourself of all desires.
Let the few true thoughts
inside you rattle in the hollow
chamber. Let that music be
what sustains you. And when
you, at last, split open, let
the seeds fly. Perhaps a few
will even catch fire in fertile
ground and fly again. Sun-
baked, nuzzled by the rains,
touched by creature mouth
or kind hands. We don’t know
what we’re doing. Might as well
let go of our hard grasping.
Sun doesn’t judge your worth.
So why do you deem yourself
less than anything under it?

Third-Place Winner: "Eyes Closed" by Jeanie Greensfelder

Jeanie Greensfelder, a psychologist and poet, is author of Biting the Apple, Penciled In, 2012, and Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith, Penciled In, 2015. She’s had a poem published on Writer’s Almanac and in American Life in Poetry. Her poems are in forthcoming anthologies: Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems, Paris, and 30 Years of the San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival; in journals: Askew, Miramar, Orbis, Echoes, Grand, Kaleidoscope, Porter Gulch Review, Poetic Medicine Journal, Riptide, Falling Star, and If&When. She lives in San Luis Obispo, California. Her poems can be read at jeaniegreensfelder.com.














Eyes Closed
by Jeanie Greensfelder

I visit a meditation group to learn 
what lures them here. Some sit 
on mats, others on chairs. A bell rings.

Silence begins. Inhale, exhale. I try
to quiet my thoughts: I’m hungry, restless 
and give in to my urge to peek:

I see faces with masks removed.
I’ve trespassed into the vulnerability 
hidden by open eyes.

Yesterday in the checkout aisle, a mother, 
carrying her infant, shared his sleeping face:
innocence, guilelessness—our paradise lost.

And here, for this half hour, people come,
sit, and enter that state. Now I’m hungry
to join them. I shut my eyes.