So to Speak is excited to announce the winner and finalist from this year’s Poetry contest, graciously judged by Dianne Seuss!

Winner: Emma Bolden, “Describe the Situation in Specific Detail”

Merlot. Whiskey and vodka. Very little tonic. Sometimes seltzer. I believed he did not break the glass on purpose. Sake, cold and hot. The small wooden boxes he used to hold a flood. Octopus: just-dead, light-wet. How long did I stay in the parking lot, calling the stray bones of a cat? He said minutes, fifteen. He always guessed in increments of five.

Writing about her work, Seuss says

I’m terribly addicted to those often-terrible newsmagazines, like Dateline and 48 Hours. I’m fascinated by the way they – the producers, the reporters, the victims and witnesses themselves – construct narratives from disparate details. Through the lens of tragedy, the smallest objects accrete the most meaning, so that the narrative evolves from and revolves around details that would otherwise be overlooked: a single hoop earring dropped on a driveway, a hairline fracture half-cracking a window shield, a few cells scraped off and under a fingernail. These television shows often seem overblown, but this particular aspect seems very real, as it reflects the very real fact that moments that initially make one feel vaguely uneasy become signposts pointing towards a tragedy after it happens.

Finalist: Emily Rose Cole, “After the Transplant Fails, I Dream of Crocodiles”

strutting under my grandma’s kitchen table,
 
their fangs shaped like the flares of candles
perched on white linen. Her old clock
 
clips time with the swinging of tails
that knock over her rosewood chairs.
 
Grandma swears she’s safe with a shut door—
We just don’t go in there anymore sweetheart,
 
but the water leaking through the hinges
unnerves me.

Emily Rose Cole is a poet from Pennsylvania, currently living in Carbondale, Illinois. She is a third-year MFA candidate at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she is the recipient of multiple national poetry prizes, including the Janet B. McCabe Award, the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her work as appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Spoon River Poetry Review, Nimrod, Passages North and Fugue, and others.

Finalist: Sarah Fetherolf, “Prayer”

Put in me the stupid sparrow heartbeat that wants
to get back to a home
I wish I could get out of. Put in me good strong bones,
clear eyesight, a gut that can take hunger and the will to not
 
be stranded

Sarah Fetherolf is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Hypertrophic, The Chattahoochee Review, Loud Zoo, Madcap, and Red Paint Hill,


The So to Speak staff would like to thank Dianne Seuss and all of this year’s entrants. The full poems by the winner and finalists will be published in a limited-run print edition, which will be available in March 2016.

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