May 9, 2017

Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest Reading, May 7

This was the 2nd year of the Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest run by local poet Bob Sharkey & his family. It is a unique contest in that there is no fee, poets may submit only 1 poem, but it can be any length, any style, on any subject & may even be previously published. This year they received 155 submissions, down from last year’s numbers, but of an overall higher quality, according to Bob.

He had organized the reading with Honorable & High Honorable Mention winners, then the Winners, followed by other Finalists. In between Bob talked about his experience with running the contest. He selected Mark W. O’Brien to read first, “It Is In the Shelter of Each Other that People Live,” because the poem was like a blessing. Carol Graser followed with “Dissolving the Distance Between You,” then Jodi Ackerman Frank with “Dr. Kwan Kew Lai’s Refrigerator” (about a physician active in the fight against the Ebola epidemic).

Dineen Carta read her poem of 21st Century dating, the ironically titled “Lovestory,” Anthony Bernini “The Dance of Dish and Glass,” & Dianne Sefcik read an eco-poem “Pipe.” Bob noted that there were a number of entries of a political nature & one example was “Not My President” read by Karen Fabiane.

Fourth place winner was Andy Fogle, who could not attend, so Bob read Andy’s poem “Granted Dominion."  Third place was Phyllis Hillinger who read “What Was Once Solid.” Bob said that the largest category of poems were ones in exotic setting, & Second place winner Ken Holland read his poem, “The Osterias Are Tipping Prosecco,” set in Venice.

An added perk for the First Place winner, in addition to the check, was the opportunity to read more than just the winning entry. Cheryl A. Rice began with a poem written after the November election, “I Hear America.” Her winning poem, “Your Service,” was about her uncle, a World War II veteran, who is still alive & living in Florida. But before she read the poem there was a teary moment when she read a letter from him responding to her sending him a copy of the poem.

In mentioning the Best Out of State Winner, Marc Levy who could not attend to read his poem about recalling his experience in Viet Nam, “Anabasis By Night,” Bob talked about his friend Stephen A. DiBiase after whom the contest is named; Stephen was a Viet Nam vet much scarred by his experience there who urged Bob & his other friends to do all they could not to serve in Viet Nam. One friend spent time in a federal prison & Bob became a conscientious objector who did alternative service in the Albany Medical Center.

Paul Amidon was the first of the finalists, read “Directions for Success,” Thérèse Broderick read “Tents of Jordan,” & Tom Corrado explained that his poem “Where Utopians Sport Recoilless Doc Martins” was #334 in his ever-growing series “Screen Dumps.”

Virginia Bach Folger not only read her poem “Summer, Maine, 1968” (which gave Bob an excuse to talk about where he grew up in Portland, ME), but also read “Dream a Little Dream of Me: Visiting Louis Armstrong’s Birthplace” by another finalist, Catherine Norr, who was unable to attend.

& speaking of Portland, Maine, that’s where finalist Rebecca Irene drove down from to read her moving poem “Dear Daughters Our World Spins Round.” Nancy Klepsch read “Before You Know Gratitude,” then Joe Krausman had us laughing as he read “Organ Lessons.” Kathleen Smith read her poem “Litany,” & another out-of-town winner, Martin Willitts Jr. made the trip from Syracuse to read “Symphony.”

It was an especially good gathering of poets & poems, indicative of the high quality of work submitted to this year’s contest. By the way, Bob asks each entrant to the contest to mention the last book of poetry they had read & the poet mentioned by the most entrants was Mary Oliver, not that one could tell that by the poems read today -- each unique & indicative of the great diversity of the poets out there crafting their own poems.


Rebecca Irene said...

What a wonderful celebration of the written word! So glad to have been a part.

Anonymous said...

If this event continues to be as good as it was this year, it will become a benchmark for quality of poetry, organization, and hosting talent. I had a great time, and so did everyone I talked with afterward.
Paul Amidon