November 21, 2019

HVWG Poetry Contest Winners Reading, November 16

& annual members’ meeting held at the Albany Public Library, Washington Ave. branch. When I saw the list of winners & “Honorable Mentions” I was pleased to see the names of poets with whose work I was familiar, others who I knew by name but was not familiar with their work, even one whose name was new to me — & found out I had heard her work many years ago.

The reading, & meeting, was moderated by HVWG president Faith Green. Each reader read their honored poem & 3 or 4 others, giving us a brief look at their work.

The first up was Deyva Arthur who began with her poem “The Sandpiper’s Eggs” which won an honorable mention. There is a surprising photo on her Facebook page of sandpiper eggs deposited in a crack in a tennis court. The other poems were titled “Grandma Rocks Baby,” the ironic “Thank God for Capitalism,” & “Night Drive.” Although I knew of Deyva both as a writer & an activist (& a Facebook friend) this was the first time I can recall hearing her poems, & I hope to hear more from her.

I know the next reader, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, much better, having published her chapbook To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met back in 2008 (A.P.D.); she is also a visual artist & collaborates with film-maker Laura Frare on video poems. Her latest book is Sugar Maker Moon from Dos Madres Press. She read 4 ekphrastic poems, beginning with “On Having Borrowed a Diebenkorn from the University Museum” which won an honorable mention. She also read “The Woodland Path,” “Postcard Divorced of Meaning,” & one inspired by reading Sy Montgomery’s book The Soul of an Octopus; interestingly enough, 2 other readers reference Mary Kathryn’s poem in their remarks on their poems.

The third Honorable Mention read was by Margaret McGowan, whom I thought I’d never heard of before, but that’s because when she was reading at the open mics here in the 1990s she was Margaret Smalec. Her honored poem was titled “Hush,” about walking to escape the tensions & pressures around her. The poem “Passage” was about where she was “from” while “Ancestors” took a different, made-up approach. “More” was inspired by a poem she had read, & one about a flood “Hoping that Would Sleep.”  Another new/old poet who I hope to see at an open mic soon.

Karen Schoemer’s 3rd prize poem was about her daughter in the hospital “Happy Clown.” Her other poems also referenced her daughter, “Stopping by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on a Saturday Afternoon,” the pantoum “The Night Hospital,” & the villanelle beginning “What if the wind…” Karen has read at a number of the poetry venues in the area, including at the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center.

At this point there was a short break to peruse the book-swap table & buy raffle tickets, then the drawing for the 3 prizes. I won a HVWG tote bag with an eclectic bunch of books — a novel, poetry, some non-fiction, including a wonderful translation of the Tao Te Ching by Prof. Victor Mair, who my daughter Madeleine studied under at UPenn.

Back to the reading, with G.E. Reed (whom I know as Guy Reed) who won 2nd place with his poem “Apples” about his daughter, which he read last. He read a couple poems from his collaborative chapbook with Cheryl A. Rice Until the Words Came (Post Traumatic Press), from which they read in this Summer’s Poets in the Park, today the poems “Born Late” & “Why I Don’t Write Like Frank O’Hara.” He also read “Seeing the Starry Night” & a 3 stanza pantoum about a train “Ghosts.” He pointed out that this is the first contest he entered as “G.E. Reed” & hopes that winning 2nd place was a good omen.

The final reader was the 1st place winner Paul Lamar. Although I knew his name from various arts & literary contexts, including a series of workshops & talks on Albany history, I had never met him or heard his poetry. He said his reading was about “people who were important to me,” including his mother whom he wrote about in the winning poem “Eulogy.” Others were a friend from 4th grade, “My Luck,” a time of discovery about who he really was, in a similar vein “An Apology to my Clarinet Teacher,” & a couple of poems referencing time spent with his granddaughter “Opus 90, Early Morning” (with a nod to Brahms), & “The Arborist."  Perhaps we can coax him out to an open mic sometime.

In addition to the marvelous reading there was a brief meeting, with a membership report, treasurer’s report, & an appeal for folks to join the Board to keep the Guild’s work going. For more information about the Guild visit the website

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