Archive for the ‘Chapbook Finalists 2009’ Category

A Walk Through the Memory Palace

September 14, 2009 14 comments

order A Walk Through the Memory PalaceWe’re very pleased to announce the publication of the first-place winner of our 2009 poetry chapbook contest, A Walk Through the Memory Palace, by Pamela Johnson Parker, in dual print and electronic versions.

The print edition, published in collaboration with Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, is 28 pages long and has a full-color, glossy cover with a black-and-white interior. The list price is $5.95.

The online version features a simple-yet-elegant design with an easy-to-use navigation system, and includes audio files of the author’s reading alongside each poem. It’s Creative Commons-licensed (Attribution-Noncommercial) to encourage the sharing of its content. Let us know if you write a review, translate any of the poems, or make videos of them, for possible inclusion in the news blog associated with the site (as well as in qarrtsiluni’s own news blog).

In case you missed it, we wrote about the chapbook contest selection process in the announcement of the contest results on August 1. If you entered the contest, you’ll be receiving a copy of A Walk Through the Memory Palace in a few weeks (to allow for shipping and handling).

Also today, our print division has a new page (which includes the link to our at-cost CafePress store, since t-shirts, hats and mugs are printed items of a sort). Beth plans to continue designing print editions of recent qarrtsiluni issues, now that her chaotic summer of selling her old house and moving is behind her, but this may depend in part on how well the chapbook does. So read it, buy it, donate it to your local library. Thanks.

—Dave and Beth

Madame Butterfly and the Down Syndrome Kid

September 12, 2009 4 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Influence of Two Moons, by Kit Loney

In the movie I never made, Philip enters
the art room, his walk a loping dance
and his hands ever churning in his pockets.
Fade in the orchestration,
Renata Scotto singing Un bel di, vedremo
as Philip contemplates the blank sheet,
the brush, the colors. Follow focus his hand
as he lowers bristles into yellow paint,
slowly brushes warm light onto the page.
Close-up on his eyes crossed in rapt
concentration as he repeats the process.
Take after take, each stroke is a wonder:
the way it starts narrow from the tip,
widens with the pressure of the brush,
then exhausts itself, like day giving into twilight.
The soundtrack swells with the soprano’s
picture of the sea within her heart,
its wide horizon, glittering harbor. Zoom in
as Philip applies blue, the lilting marks
lapping green into where the yellow
has not yet dried. He curls his tongue forward
to taste the salt ocean breeze.
Butterfly’s voice climbs with her longing, scales
steep-sloped waves, soars into towering clouds.
And now Philip smiles wide, delighted
over the curl action of his wrist as he swirls
white paint into the scene, filling the sails
of Pinkerton’s ship. It is a vessel made of drawing
paper. It surges through choppy waters,
splashes us with sunlit drops of brine.

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This poem previously appeared in the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2008 yearbook.

Kit Loney received the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2008 Carrie Allen McCray Prize, and 2007 DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Prize. Her work has appeared in the 2007 and 2008 Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets. Her day job is teaching middle school art.

Touring the Glaciers

September 11, 2009 2 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist The Goatfish Alphabet (one of the two runners-up), by Kristen McHenry

We’ve boarded the ship, unruly tourists
in jelly sandals, scrambling to witness first
the humming skyward walls, an ocean
stiffened and held in its own sleek corpse, risen high.
We glide beside this aqua screen, in unthawed dreams
on the lam from our flooded lives; squatters
craving the glacier’s bright cooling raiment
as we press our fevered foreheads to its damp skin.

When did this snowy rush begin
to find a place of infinite containment;
to ground itself in the frantic waters
and anchor to the sea with its monstrous beams?
It does nothing but absorb the sky
and hold its place among motion.
Our hands flutter on cameras; we’re the cursed
who can’t stop churning the placid waters.

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Kristen McHenry is a resident of Seattle, Washington and is a poet and freelance writer by night, and health outreach worker by day. Among other publications, her work has been seen in Wanderings, Trellis Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Tiferet, Sybil’s Garage, and several anthologies, including Meanderings and Flowers Bloom in the Moonlight. She is currently a finalist in the national competition “Project Verse”. She is the creator and facilitator of the Poet’s Cafe, a weekly poetry workshop for homeless teens at the New Horizons drop-in center in downtown Seattle.

Montana Sky

September 10, 2009 9 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist And Not As She Was, by Jeneva Stone

August 2002, Montana

Because it’s like waking from a thousand years of sleep to see that sky now — the first time
I was seventeen and remember the car tracing a line across the state’s broad back, the wind

shearing across the grassland, the mountains always arched in front of us — the sky so deep
but it pressed on me, left me flushed and shaking — and driving, driving endlessly —

my friend, who lives there now, says the grasslands are called West Dakota, the way the earth
lies flat, rolling out toward the Rockies, he says the speed limit used to be just

reasonable and prudent, but they’ve brought it back down to seventy-five —
when we were younger, I liked the way he held my face in his hands when he kissed me.

August 1986, Vermont

I was mute under that sky because coming from the east all I knew were grids
and boundaries, lines and houses locked in patterns, traffic lights at every corner —

one night I straddled my friend’s lap, took his face in my hands and kissed him — not
what he wanted — but he said, stay, and we were so close we were like one pulse —

years pass and I remind him, tell him how it felt — like flooring it through a stop sign, the fear
of impact took my head off, made my hands numb, how I wanted to laugh out loud, and then

all that year or more I couldn’t sleep without struggling, and he says he can’t remember
anything like fear in me, just my scent, my small breasts, and his own drive.

August 1987, West Virginia

Speeding across the New River Gorge Bridge that rolls out a flat half-mile or more,
more than a quarter-mile down, an arched back supporting a steel frame,

the longest single arch bridge in the world, my friend tells me, he likes the flatness
of it under him, the way it lies mostly still, but quivers when the big trucks cross —

What do you want? he finally shouts, pounding the steering wheel with his fist — I don’t
understand this question, the weird, blank, blueness of it suspended all around

the bridge over the tangled crotch of the river — later, I think I know: he is sure
I love him, would be his if only he asked, which he does not do and never will.

December 2002, Maryland

When my toddler daughter cries out in frustration, there are too many rules,
I want to tell her, well then, jump that fence and run —

but I don’t because I remember that in books written for adolescent girls,
heroines in the old west like to ride their horses out fast over the reverberating sod

until their homes slip back under the earth’s slight curve —
holding the rope bridle tight in their hands until their breath comes in short gasps,

until everything they know vanishes into the slit between sky and grass.

Download the podcast

Jeneva Stone — poet, blogger, mother, federal employee, practical g/i nurse, interpreter of EOBs, queen of medical necessity letters, keeper of the family exchequer, unlicensed physical therapist, knowledgeable wheelchair mechanic — may also be found at Busily Seeking… Continual Change.

Between Stations

September 9, 2009 5 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Wavelengths, by Dick Jones

Between stations lies
what I call, faute
de mieux
, the real world.

Long jawbones of houses,
each exposed like molars,
upturned and particular.

Here, a garden tricycle,
tilted onto a bony shoulder.
Fallen or pushed? And there,

beanrows and water features,
gouts of flowers like
spilled butter and blood.

And someone sleeping,
pinned to a blanket
like a specimen whilst

a girl in green
at an open window
waves a ‘phone, yelling,

frozen, voiceless, like
a gargoyle. All so clear
then immolated at

a track’s turning. This
is how our lives
walk and talk, coughing

syllables heard by no one,
throwing shapes that
are black against obsidian.

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Dick Jones, a musician and recently retired drama teacher, has been writing seriously for the past 20 years. His poems and short stories have been published in a wide range of magazines, both on- and offline.

Good Queen Calamity Jane

September 8, 2009 6 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Calamity Jane, by Diane Gage

In the land of opaque pawns, Calamity ruled
as Electric Queen Jane, one-woman neon jubilee
of frank facts and filigree, a traveling smash of action.
The wayward were rewarded and the melancholy

mooned in the country of Jane’s command
with its euphonious thickets of fornicating birds
and its fishy unfathomed ponds, its riotous vespers
and lethargic dawns. No regulations cramped

anyone’s style, which inclined to the ingenuous,
the daft, the indulgent, the bizarre — most took their
shafonfa straight and had no word for par. So physical
and thick-necked her personal manner, so elaborate

and festooned her crown, she appeared acephalous
to the worshipping masses, who knew all about out
but damn little of down, during the forthright, delirious
reign of good Queen Electric Calamity Jane.

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Diane Gage tweets 50s-style haiku on Twitter from her 50s-era neighborhood known as Birdland, in San Diego. Her previous poem in Qarrtsiluni was “Fish Face” in the Water issue. Other recent publications include “Ode to Gravity” in Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press). A much fuller biography is avilable on her webpage.

Paper Covers Rock

September 7, 2009 2 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Paper Covers Rock (one of the two runners-up), by Chella Courington

I can’t stop buying scissors. I walk into Home Depot for geraniums & lilies, leave with gardening shears, green ergonomic handles. Gelson’s for halibut. Shiny poultry shears. At a garage sale I find a pair of hedge clippers. By December paper cutters, pinking shears, hair trimmers — any blades you want are boxed in the kitchen pantry.

Saturday he takes his 14 clubs & disappears. In hot water, I clean scissors. Prop them on the counter before drying with muslin. Each blade I shine with baking soda. In high school I hung with cutters. They used whatever worked — broken glass, coat hangars, paper. Arms tracked with violet scars like stretch marks, hidden under long-sleeve shirts.

Reflections in a Golden Eye: Mrs. Langdon uses garden shears to clip her nipples when she loses her baby. Snip snip — easy as pinching off deadheads. Sunday in January, I hold my left nipple between the blades of barber shears. Warm steel triggers goose bumps. Is a nipple like a finger? Can they sew it back on?

Recurrent dream: blades-down, scissors drop from the ceiling, rattling & hissing. Impale the cherry nightstand, down comforter, my Land’s End bathrobe. I crouch in the tub, rocking to the sound of hail. Open my thigh — blood a rusty penny melting on my tongue.

I get an Alabama divorce. He signs the papers & hauls his Titliest clubs, La-Z-Boy, & mahogany desk back to Illinois. Parting words: The cat stays with you. I keep Moot, the crystal, & the condo. Start selling the scissors on E-Bay, box by box.

Download the podcast

With a Ph.D. in British and American Literature and an M.F.A. in Poetry, Chella Courington teaches writing and literature at Santa Barbara City College. Having moved west with a fiction writer and two cats in 2002, she finds that California provides her imaginative space. Her recent poetry appears in Mademoiselle’s Fingertips, Permafrost, wicked alice, Iguana Review, and The New Verse News. Her first chapbook, entitled Southern Girl Gone Wrong, was published in 2004.

Gacela of the Sheet of Paper

September 5, 2009 Comments off

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist The Three, by Richard Garcia

Not the sheet of paper rolled into a tight cone,
dipped into a paste of flour and water,
sharpened against a scrap of emery board.

But one that waits patiently to be folded.
The one crumbled up into a ball, or dancing, like
those sheets of paper observed by the first aviators
revolving in the currents of clouds.

Aye Luna, goddess of paper, unroll your mantle:
did you not glisten the skin of my first love
just before her mother came home
from the graveyard shift at Can-Co
and I slipped out the window, seen only
by you and the paperboy?

No, not the spear made of paper, flicked
from a notch in a pencil between prison bars,
across tiers and ramp ways, the one
that can pierce a man’s heart.

Without significance, wet paper in the rain.
The birth certificate, the death certificate,
the warrant, the summons, the sealed orders.

I want that sheet of paper slipped under a door
at midnight, that code invisible to all but candle flame.

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Richard Garcia is the author of The Persistence of Objects from BOA Editions. His poems have recently appeared in Ploughshares, The Georgia Review and Crazyhorse.


September 4, 2009 8 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist ashes, ashes, by Susanna Rich

My father wouldn’t lead me down the aisle:
you were a Jew
and hadn’t asked him —
cognac to cognac — for my hand.

Good Catholic Hungarian girls marry
Royal Austro-Hungarian Empire types,
have children to speak
Hungarian for Grandpa’s dollars.

For years my father came to brag
about the war: ministering to German
soldiers; his chocolates, Gillettes,
and stockings for their wives.

He brought wine from Polish vineyards
I feared
unspeakably fertilized —
some sympathetic magic I couldn’t drink.

Don’t let them lie to you, he spoke
like a spell over my Holocaust books,
Catholic priests, good people were killed
more than Jews —

Jewish bankers, Jewish doctors,
Jewish control of the media…

I asked him not to.
Robbed of his conjugating adjective,

he can’t speak.
He holds vigil by our bedroom window,
his eye filling the pane like frost,
assuring himself no children will mix

his blood with the Jews’.
In spring I gather flowered Seder plates
from Fortunoff’s, saffron tablecloth,
new five-fingered vase.

I bury our pots in the garden,
as your mother once did,
to purify them,
so we can all eat.

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“Passover” originally appeared in Visions: International 59 (1999). It was reprinted in Writers at the Water’s Edge (Ocean Grove: Tri-Muse, 2003) and in Dovetail: A Journal By and For Jewish/Christian Families (May/June 2003). All rights reverted to author.

Susanna Rich is a 2009 Emmy Award nominee for the poetry she wrote and voice-overed for Craig Lindvahl’s documentary Cobb Field. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Television Daddy and The Drive Home; the 2008 Featured Poet of Darkling Literary Magazine; and a Fulbright Fellow in Creative Writing. An internationally published poet and prose writer, Susanna tours the one-woman audience-interactive poetry experience Television Daddy, and is in production for The Drive Home (opening in 2010). Her books and DVDs are available at her website.

Prison Terms

September 3, 2009 1 comment

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Prison Terms, by Diane Kendig

None here thinks a pink slip
…is underwear. None here says, ‘lingerie’
or ‘as it were.’

—William Matthews

Flat time, like a flat rate, is non-negotiable.
It is what you served on no platter, after you,
— not your cover, which was already blown —
were turned down the last time for parole,
a word that used to mean, “word of honor”
and now means, “sooner, but conditional,”
or “man, you are booking,” not to say “booked,”
the start, often, of a very long sentence with no syntax,
though we don’t know that as we are strung along.

When we read your bail amount,
nearly doubled at arraignment,
we could only reason, a typo, but when we spoke
to you about it, by phone, through the milky Plexiglas,
you told us they printed it exactly as announced in court
in no uncertain terms, though capriciousness
came to mind then and in the months since.
I don’t think of these words as terms of art
or anything I can come to terms with
any time soon.

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“Prison Terms” first appeared in J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Spring 2009.

Diane Kendig has three chapbooks, most recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000. Her writing has appeared in journals such as Colere, Minnesota Review, Mid-America, and Slant, and several new anthologies. A Midwesterner at heart, she is currently writing out of place in Lynn, Massachusetts. Find her on the web at

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