2021 Open Poetry Contest Winners

We'd like to thank everyone who entered our first poetry contest and to give special thanks to our guest judge, Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason! Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions. We're so proud to support you in your creative endeavors!

First Place: 

Shyla Shehan

"Double American Sonnet for Terrance Hayes"

I didn’t want to write a white poem—

some hollow note no echo of your beat,

lacking raucous black wings wrapping

inside so many six sided cages. Your rage

a light of insight in stolen times, a storming

mind wound around words I can’t begin

to know. I know you know. You’re a bull

balled small; a seed inside my china shop.

Yet, I’m partial to your broken peace—

a past can't be undone or unsung. No justice

will be sprung from your offerings. Your gambit

a gamble for the future of humanity, flowers

planted in me begin to grow. I don’t want

to write a white poem, but what else can I do?

 

What else can I do then? With your lament 

laid bare before me. Side by side piano keys, 

our disparate tones, our histories—  

my fingers reach to play. I know you know.

It’s not as if I could consume your songs

and collaborate with your grand congregation

locked in a panic room—somehow understand

and command the choir into something new.

No. You are a stranger to me. Your range

of motions moves me beyond The Blues,

beyond the brittle madness of my own broken

peace and invites me into unfamiliar space.

All this to say, despite obstacles I’m impelled

to cultivate this bouquet of words anyway.

Shyla Shehan is an analytical Virgo from the Midwest. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska and her work has appeared in The Decadent Review, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Gyroscope Review, GRIFFEL, and elsewhere. Her full bio and publication credentials are available at shylashehan.com.

Second Place:

Anthony Warnke

"A Brief History of 2021"
 

Is the fourth wave over? Democracy? Rompers? Humphead wrasses?

Tiny strap sandals? Piping plovers? Ceramics majors? Oregon summers? 

Conscious classes? Sorry, you’re muted? Build Back Better? Or the foreboding 

obsession with work?1

 

Is the fifth wave coming? The new season of Squid Game? My dad’s taxes? 

Ethical meat? Ethical travel? My dad’s ashes? Is reciprocation a form of deterrence? 

Is deterrence a form of desire? Why do rich people love endurance sports?2 Did Covid

change how we dream?3 How much is a Costco chicken with inflation, the unpriced suffering 

of the chicken notwithstanding? Is our only planet in between sizes? Too big to fail? And

too small to protect?4 You want a booster, a breakthrough, or both? What’s that 

blue sound? Orange to taste? Light therapy? Or hope? My grandma always joked 

about her great depression. What’s the potential in my great resignation?  

 

I cry over a lost shoe not because 

I have entirely lost the plot. 

I cry over a lost shoe because 

it is one tiny catastrophe too many.5

1.  Goldberg, Emma. “The 37-Year-Olds Are Afraid of the 23-Year-Olds Who Work for Them.” The New York Times, 28 Oct. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/28/business/gen-z-workplace-culture.html

2. Stulberg, Brad, Alex Hutchinson, and Cathal Dennehy. “Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports?” Outside Online, July 2, 2021. https://www.outsideonline.com/health/training-performance/why-are-most-endurance-athletes-rich/.

3. Brooke Jarvis, “Did Covid Change How We Dream?,” The New York Times,  3 Nov. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/03/magazine/pandemic-dreams.html.

4. Brown, Wendy. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution, Zone Books, New York, 2017.

5. Kavanagh, Emily. “An Invisible Threat Has Pushed Us To Our Limits. No Wonder Our Brains are Overwrought.” The Guardian, Oct. 21 2021,  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/oct/24/invisible-threat-had-pushed-us-to-limits-small-wonder-our-brains-overwrought

Anthony Warnke’s poetry has appeared in Cimarron Review, North American Review, Salt Hill, Sentence, Sixth Finch, and Sugar House Review, among other journals. His chapbook, Super Worth It, was selected for the 2021 Emerging Poets Series from Newfound Press. He teaches writing at Green River College and lives in Seattle.

Third Place:

Annette Gagliardi

"What’s Left But The Verbs?"
 

People are in a hurry, they want to leave 

out so many important words. 

Paradigms of syntax without meaning, 

language denuded, denied the right 

to be full-fledged;

a contemplation of syllables—

parables that lack nouns, articles adjectives,

prepositions. Sentences dance and mime 

the written word into actuality.

 

What is the plural of the prime(time)-property 

of language? Its nudity takes refuge 

in the contemplation of syllables.

(If you undress language, you’ve only got ABC’s.)

We spill them out;

when we speak in written word, 

using the complete repertoire that gyrates 

and pirouettes in the blank lines 

waiting,

 

then sweep the left-overs up 

and out into the universe, 

to be imbibed by unsuspecting 

audiences who glance sideways 

as they try to comprehend sentences.    

language is a social construct—conjugated?

we talk while leaving out so many 

categories of words: no more articles,          no prepositions!

Nouns used as 

 

verbs—so begone verbs.

Can it be true that only English nouns can be 

verbed—becoming actions? Yet some are more resistant

than others. 

Adjectives and adverbs describe 

occurrences without forming

the main part of a predicate—becoming only 

a clause lacking movement.

 

Annette Gagliardi has poetry published in Motherwell, Wisconsin Review, American Diversity Report, Origami Poems Project, Amethyst Review, Door IS A Jar, Trouble Among the Stars, Poetry Quarterly, Sylvia Magazine, and others. She co-edited Upon Waking: 58 Voices Speaking Out from the Shadow of Abuse. Visit her website at: https://annette-gagliardi.com/

Honorable Mentions:

listed in order of selection

Mary Stillwell

"Astronomy of Now"

This is the other eclipse,

the one where the sun

is at our back, our shadow

arcing deeper and deeper

across the full round face

of February’s blue moon,

a smile descending, 

 

this report like my mother’s, 

written, folded, and tucked 

into a lifetime of envelopes,

night views from her window,

glowing above the west field,

stamped and mailed east,

where the sun begins

 

its journey, casting

our shadows over the face

of the moon until the smile

vanishes into a singular

darkness, mother gone,

daughter waning, children

moving on, a slim crescent

emerging again, curved 

 

knife cutting its way 

into the earth, until

there is only moon, full

again, sun, rising here, now,

and we, so unimportant,

raise our faces to the light,

these last glorious days

 

of memory and emotion,

written and not written, 

folded and tucked into a life- 

time of envelopes, stamped

and mailed, bright comets 

burning for a moment, 

falling to the dark earth below.

Ashley DeVrieze

"Bird Watching"

 

Both of my babies have shared the mornings with me

in this way, perched on the kitchen counter, footie pajamas

taut over toes.

 

We stare together, one coffee and one milk, hoping

for guests, saying their names: chickadee and cardinal,

finch and nuthatch. 

 

Mother and baby, we wish as one for sweet

surprises – downy woodpeckers visiting suet,

traveling orioles drawn by grape jam. 

 

We marvel, dipping breakfast cookies, as 

our squirrels hang upside down like caterpillars, 

curled into fat Js, sunflower shells dusting 

the garden below.

Lin Brummels

"Jerry's Hands"

held, fed, and diapered his children

grandchildren and now

hold great-grandchildren

find motherless kittens in his barn

feed them special food

make them a safe home 

build airplanes from kits

install thousands of rivets

connect fuselage and wings

test engines before flight

know which knobs to turn to take off

move levers to level plane

pilot his planes to distant locations

replace bolts on my wheelbarrow

know which wrench works

check handles to assess hold

design and weld a grape arbor 

engage gears on his tractor  

lift arbor into place with loader bucket 

paint bee boxes bright white

fill boxes with worker bees

gently add a new queen

pump a smoke box to quiet bees

care for honeybee health

harvest honey

weld stand for a garden sink

rinse turnips and carrots

carry buckets of tomatoes

move boat from trailer to lake

steer boat to good fishing spot

string fishing line

cast fishing pole from bow 

know the feel of a walleye on the line

fry tender fish filets

are stiff sometimes these days

show blue veins of age 

have thinning skin

feel warm to my cold fingers

hold my hands to warm them

touch my face before a kiss

Jewel Rodgers

"Mother"

When my baby speaks of their Mother, they will say momma was warrior. Momma swam in the shoes they gave her. Gasping, maybe, but never drowned. She’d snatch back air from night terrors wrapped around her throat like secrets only a slave could know. A history much unlike the fairytales our school books slide down our throats. I still have the marks on my neck to prove the curriculum. The scars up my arms to show that I was never taught to know myself but I could draw you pictures of a sorrow only your subconscious could understand. And it’s funny because school is a place I learned to be afraid to have a baby that looked like it was mine. Or had skin like it was mine. Hair tangled so deep ‘round her spine they wouldn’t even have to try to crucify her. She would’ve done that by age ten like her mother. Angry she couldn’t burn the culture out her skin like them other girls. Like, “Daddy, why my hair can’t be straight like them other girls?” Like, “Daddy, why I can’t be pretty like them other girls?” Why when I stay out in the sun too long, I ain’t no body’s ray of sunshine, I’m tan lines in really awkward places like, “cover that shit up in public.” Executions of God-given creatures in broad daylight like bodies of ants that kids burn up on the sidewalk when they finally get their first magnifying glass.

I can tell you how closely you must be to the sound of burning before you

are taught to love the smell of your flesh becoming invisible.

Ashes amongst concrete and sand and even then, when your body is closest to the shore it has ever been. They will not build castles of you. They will litter you incomplete. Call you mother to an undeserving shore. This is not just the story of a black woman. Believe me, they have littered many waters and have drowned in them before but when my baby speaks, they will wake people. They will know bondage is deeper than chain. Bondage is bought and sold in our grocery stores and we slave for the certificates to buy them. Wrap the rope around our necks casually, plaster ourselves with the illusion on our cell phone screens and keep our eyes just wide enough to let in the propaganda points of not good enough. Well, my baby will know she can move mountains before the tv or first amendment ever can. She will know that God resides in the belly of the beast. She will sound the sirens. Tell us how her skin could never show you the depth of her shore. How her hair could never hang you like that one percent can. Humans have always been poster child for modern slaughter in America and she will know that to be casualty of war is to resist the urge to wake up. When my baby speaks of their mother, I dream she speaks of a woman triumphant in a battle she need never bear.

Anthony Warnke

"Unthawing Sounds Wonderful"

 

Though messy and uneven.

The road unthaws

before the sidewalk. 

The ground was carved by a glacier.

A glacier’s like a ghost.

The red birdfeeder sways.

Coming up on two years.

Someone’s in the hospital. 

Someone’s in the hospital

coming up on two years.

The red birdfeeder sways. 

A glacier’s like a ghost —

the ground was carved by a glacier. 

Before the sidewalk, 

the road unthaws.

Though messy and uneven,

unthawing sounds wonderful.

Kay Lin

"hypochondria"

extreme preoccupation with one’s own physical health

 

hair clogging the sink again.

 

packs of instant noodles in the cupboard,

each covered in bright yellow plastic;

two-fifty each, not a bad deal despite each

strand being barely thicker than tangled hair.

white wax clings to the kettle’s sides and sticks

to your teeth. on the fridge, two articles,

chinese and english side by side: stern warnings

on the dangers of eating too much: thinning scalp,

frizzing hair – ugly like the paper’s jagged edges.

on the table, newspapers open to the classifieds:

each asking for qualifications your father never had.

 

white spotting beneath fingernails again.

 

smile, close-mouthed, at compliments for your

weight. hide the tongue has learned to love white

porridge mixed with peanuts in cans yellowed with

age, a dollar-twenty per meal. you licked stained

teeth nervously when asked to share your diet

recipes, and tucked hands in to hide chipped nails

and jaundiced skin. back home you duck under pale

porcelain your mother threw at your father, and

smeared lipstick (three-twenty on sale) before

heading out for the money your father could not earn.

 

black stars in eyes again.

 

your collarbone could hold all of the coins in your

piggybank; your hips jut sharp enough to cut. you’re

lucky that your lips stayed full and your skin washed pale

by the swinging red lights. almost grown now, you must

help with the bills, skipping meals to stride down the street

like it was a catwalk, smiling at hungry eyes. when you

stumbled; it was because your heels were too high. back home,

clear nail polish (four-fifty) dirtied your hands more as you

repaired a run where an excited man had pulled too hard.

 

blood staining the floor again.

your sister’s wedding: your mother hissed at your father: 

the red packet was too pale. you opened a vein to dye paper

the proper shade. your sister – beautiful enough, with white

hands and whiter teeth – was marrying a dull machine who

couldn’t speak your mother’s language. but his eyes and fingertips

were stained blue and his breath stunk of newly-minted money.

the banquet ends with mountains of yellow noodles left for

black bags to eat. you watched them vanish, stomach twisting.

 

(months later, your father

stuffed belongings into bags

made from dyed-yellow skin.

you dragged red from veins

again and dripped into new

packets for him. he takes them,

smiling, and texts you at the

airport that he paid by card

for the taxi.

 

your hands tremble, white spots

blurring. you look in the mirror:

ah, after all these years, the white

of your bones stand in sharper

relief than those of your teeth.)

Carolina Souto

"Directions for How to Swallow This Bird"

I can't swallow this bird:

each new story a new heart: 

each news story:

sorrow is sadness in a bow:

the water is not only shallow by the shore:

I can't swallow this bird:

go deeper into the bellows: 

lets go below:

let go:

a report by a Farrow:

I can't swallow this bird:

I can't swallow this bird:

all I can say is ow:

what happens when we're followed:  

can I borrow this:

carry me in a wheelbarrow: 

a crow a crow:

where is the arrow: 

how is it we are still here: 

how just go with the flow: 

how so slow: 

bow down against the plow: 

it's hard to know what's right now: 

I'll allow it this time: 

let it grow: 

show me how to work this vow: 

I won't swallow this bird:

endow: 

end now.

Jo Taylor

"grandma mable"

after Lucille Clifton

 

when i think of you

in your fuzzy-pink, faux-fur bedroom slippers

limping like you had long wrestled with jacob’s angel

lighting up and taking a drag of your carefully-crimped prince albert

the smoke circling above your head like a fading sensuousness

 

when i think of you

running a comb through your tired, wavy-thick hair, hoary

like ocean’s spew against the muted sea sand 

planting a pinch of snuff between your lower gum and cheek as you scurry about 

shooing cats nestled in your worn easy-chair or on the kitchen counter 

 

when i think of you

chauffeuring the folks to doctors and diviners

or crocheting blankets for grandbabies and old men    

your arthritic hands crimped like rita hayworth pin-curls

your failing eyesight as dim as the speakeasies of your girlhood

 

when i think of

the cortege escorting you to the gardens of your final resting place

monument-still policemen holding at attention as the hearse rolls by

strangers in their automobiles yielding a moment for your hundred plus years

your black-veiled sons and daughters processing, solemn and staid

 

i light up o daughter of zeus child of eurynome i light up

Anthony Warnke

"Accumulation"

 

I’m sitting again after sitting all day

except when I was walking Costco.  

If I write 300 words, I can have a 

smoothie. So I write true things: “I 

enjoy lots of little snacks throughout 

the day.” “I worry gratitude has

changed me.” “I hate five of my six 

new pillows.” “I wonder why it’s 

never conditioner with shampoo,” 

which makes me think about 

theories of gender. 

This diffuse feeling, centrally located 

with stores across the body, is

reinforced by the subject line: 

“We Hate to See You Go” from 

the ACLU Membership Committee. 

The ACLU got weird about vaccines. 

Sometimes I feel about the ACLU 

the same way I feel about my 

sister’s ex-husband. Glad he’s still 

there for my sister sometimes so 

I don’t have to be.

More true things: “I can’t believe

how well Vermont has done

in the pandemic, especially 

Winooski,” though I’ve no

reason not to. “I sincerely miss

the samples.” “Blocks, tubes,

test tubes, red wool, wooden

chairs, old keys, a metal house,

a wooden boat.”

I’m trying to find a German

word for this feeling of hope

in broken parts. “Earth to

Linda,” I say to my mom when 

she’s getting sidetracked. I say to 

myself, “Earth to Linda” to reach 

300 words. “Earth to Linda” when 

I’m not Linda, and I’m in the flow

state writing this to you. I’m in 

the flow state, I think, taking me 

out of the flow state. Is this 

Fernweh: reverse homesickness?

When my in-laws arrive, I’ll have to

measure the coffee.

Ashley DeVrieze

"Age 37"

 

As I sit in the middle of 37, thinking 

about 38, but mostly about 40, 

I wonder what voice I bring to the table.

Is it the voice of a stay-at-home-mom,

who talks with children all day, and

stumbles, over eager to use lost language 

when adults are present? 

Perhaps I bring only polite conversation,

the answers to “how does he like school?,”

"are you still doing your art?,"

“any home projects coming up?”

The answers come, but so much remains

tucked behind my teeth: 

“He loves school and 

I cry at least once weekly, 

sometimes three times,

thinking about how quickly 

his legs outgrow his jeans, 

the dimples around his knees

gone.

"I am still painting, but 

no, it's not always restful when 

I can't shake the knowledge

of dishes in the sink and 

crushed cheerios 

on the floor" and 

"Yes, he is very tall for his age, and

yesterday he said spaghetti instead of 

pasketti and

afterward I cried in the bathroom,

(and again later

when I wrote about it in a poem)," and 

“Yes, we’re planning to wallpaper 

the laundry room," but 

I don’t have a group - 

a village in this place, and 

I wonder if I should be here at all, or 

maybe in some other house, 

where I have a friend with whom to share 

a secret, to let inside even when 

the floor is dirty, who knows

where to find her own coffee cup.”

Charlene Neely

"At the Viewing"

already laid out with bone china, fine silver,

crystal glasses ready to be raised.

-Grace Bauer

The mortician had laid her out

as gently and gracefully as if

she were sleeping, her arms

neatly folded, all 206 bones

in her body straightened

as if they hadn’t broken as easily

as the bone china plate that caught

her unawares under her left eye

before they both fell to the floor,

leaving a purple bloom the mortician

painted over as delicately as 

the pink blossom on the plate.

Her silver fillings melted down,

stored in a drawer to be sold

for other uses just as the silverware 

in the kitchen drawer she left behind

would be used     again    and again

by other women in that same kitchen

or another. Her glasses shattered like

fine crystal, filled now with ordinary

window glass since she no longer 

needed them, her blackened eyes

now sporting eye shadow in a shade

she’d never used but worked well

to conceal their dark shadows.

He could do nothing for the heart

that was broken except 

let it rest in peace at last.

But when he closed that lid,

his eyes could not unsee what 

the passing mourners had not.

Livingston Rossmoor

“Do Chase the Ebbing Neptune”

It must be a mistake.
I thought it was a promise,
you would be the last one
left without saying goodbye.
You said it all comes and goes.
When all are gone,
I can dig and dig
like the sandpipers chasing the beach crabs.


It was a turbulent storm,
the night you arrived,
you drew a line in the sand
and swore you would come again.


This morning, I hurried back,
the line disappeared,
I dug and dug, not there.
At night,
when the moon was half bright;
in the dark, no trace, no sign.
Day, night, I went back;
new lines, old lines,
crossed my heart,
smudged, blurred my eyes,
storms, waves, ripples.....
pounding, slapping, murmuring.


You were not the only one
drew a line through my name.


O God, everything is just water,
swallow, spit it out, let it go,
cry out loud,
I heard it again and again.


Still, I keep going back when
sun rises or
moon’s behind the moonlight.

Kelly Alsup

"‘e’ is for empathy"

-after “Floating Girl,” by Banksy

One weekend, I had a vodka Roy Rogers each of three nights.
I have always loved Maraschino cherries—


as a child: on sundaes, banana splits, and in Shirley Temples;
and later: in the cherry lemonade they sell at the sweet shoppe


on South Congress in Austin, where my dad and stepmom live.
I left my heart somewhere.


As a symbol of hope, there is a stencil of a child
holding her red balloons, I faintly recall, but what I don’t remember


is the possible violent image this beacon runs counter to.
If you leave out the ‘e’ in beacon, you end up with bacon, which would seem


to be aptly called red meat. But do you remember
the ads that said: Pork. The Other White Meat? Regardless, pigs are mammals,


and this is where I tend to draw the line.
Not always at my mouth, but, usually in my mind.


I never draw a line with Maraschino cherries. If the bartender asks
how many I want, I say to her—I don’t even look over my shoulder


for a second—I just say to her, Tender, I’ll take
as many balloons as you’ll give me—

J.D. Isip

"Leaving Krypton"

for Anne

It is better you had not stayed long enough to know

what alchemy binds us to a place, how extracting 

yourself begins a dissolution, the cloud-capped

towers, the cracked cement slab you’d jump every

day on your way to school, the band you worshipped,

a dog you pet in your sleep, friends, parents, all

 

melt away before you think to look back, you think

turning around, just a glance, will be too much for you

and you are right, some ancient knowledge forces

your stare forward, drowns out the chain reacting 

atoms, the splitting crust of a world where once you

were essential as its gravity, its rotation, its sun—

 

But, O! What crests into view? A light you never felt

pulls you closer, a strength you’ve never had takes over,

and you are flying this foreign galaxy, feeling yourself

for the first time yourself, arms outstretched, open

to embrace a brand-new atmosphere, the sweet air,

a woman you kiss to sleep, adopted parents, friends, all

 

will need your new powers to survive this new adventure:

x-ray vision to see the imposters; piercing heat to bore

deep into layers of tradition, stubbornness, scars; a cold

breath for those who call you a false god; and the wisdom

to keep that shrunken city from this place as a reminder

we never fully lose the past, but what we knew is gone

 

the instant that we leave it.

Kelly Alsup

"The Upper Green"

Our Alpine goat, Mariposa, died in June.
Her last meal included a donut.


Before burial, we adorned her body
with more common snacks—nasturtium
and leaves of the sweet gum—but also the perfumed
flowers of sweet pea, which even a goat shouldn’t eat.


They fell on her gently, like paper confetti,
in colors diverse as table wine and amethyst
and ascended their scent back toward us—


much as her horns—tougher than nails, but still
made of the same—were covered last by soil,
while her memory drifted further free.


I felt full and rich with grief—and moved
all those feet of earth until
the pollinators slumbered.


Mariposa left behind our two old ewes, Cloud and Magpie, dubious
of being approached as hummingbirds, but bumblier. As summer grasses
flattened brown, the only browsers our pasture knew were deer.


Now, we add to the herd new fliers—Buckeye, for the common
butterfly; and Rufous, for the once-named and similarly-sided
towhee—twins who carry her Alpine but express a bit more Oberhasli.


Why are they all named after things that fly? They ask.
I tell them it’s because all ruminants go to heaven—each


thought & its thinker and abundant fiber by spirit stirred—
all our companions, friends, are taken to salt and sky—


the sea otter and the barn owl—all of us
creatures come densely, of light—

Shyla Shehan

"What I Would Give"

 

What I would like to give 

for a change

is not bemoaning the last I love you

but instead that moment 

we made a silly shadow

on the canyon wall.

Our arms stretched out extraterrestrially

across the rust and tan striations;

the setting sun somewhere far behind us.

I would give the very instant 

light was squeezed out of the space

between our two bodies

creating something strange 

and wonderful and new.

I would give the newness itself.

Mary K Stillwell is the author of The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser (University of Nebraska Press, 2013). Other books (poetry) include Reasonable Doubts (Finishing Line, 2020), Maps & Destinations (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2018), Fallen Angels (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Moving to Malibu (Sandhills Press, 1990).

 

Ashley DeVrieze is a painter and writer living in Omaha, Nebraska. She worked in education for many years, teaching English and college readiness, while writing and painting. Her favorite part of the creative process is connecting with everyday objects and ideas, which she enjoys exploring in both poetry and paint.

 

Lin Marshall Brummels earned a Psychology BA from NU-Lincoln and MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from Syracuse University. She’s published in journals, magazines, and anthologies. Her poetry chapbooks are Cottonwood Strong and Hard Times, a 2016 Nebraska Book Award winner. “Into a Quilted Landscape” was published by Scurfpea Publishing in 2021.

 

Jewel Rodgers is a public speaker and spoken word poet from North Omaha moonlighting as a developer of the built-environment.

 

Kay Lin (Chinese name: Lin Yihuan 林義煥) lives in Singapore. Her chapbook of poetry, symptoms of the forgotten, was published by Open Country Press. Her poetry has also been published by the december magazine, Live Canon, and others. Her short story "night out" was published by The Tishman Review.

 

Carolina Souto lives in North Miami, Florida. She teaches music locally and is also a Professor of Creative Writing at FIU. She is working on her first poetry collection while also recording a new album with the band Las Nubes.

 

Jo Taylor is a retired 35-year English teacher from Georgia. She has been published in such journals as The Ekphrastic Review, One Art, Reformed Journal, The Frost Meadow Review, and Verse Virtual. In 2021 she published her first collection, Strange Fire.

Charlene Neely’s books: The Lights of Lincoln and The Corn Fairy's Wigs & Other Poems. She co-edited The Guide to More Nebraska Authors with Gerry Cox. As part of the Poetry Ladies she shares her love of poetry with school-children. She’s a member of Nebraska Writers Guild, Lincoln Chapparal Poets.

 

Livingston Rossmoor has written and published 17 poetry books. His poems have appeared in numerous publications: local newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and overseas publications. In addition, Livingston’s poems have been published in The Lyric, Poetry Quarterly, California Quarterly (California State Poetry Society), Ibbetson Street, Time of Singing poetry journal, and Chronogram magazine.

 

A graduate of the University of Oregon and Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School, Kelly Alsup works as a Garden Educator and also works her way through words. Born in California and raised in Nebraska, she welcomed her chapbook of poems, when if ever alive, from Finishing Line Press in 2018.

 

Jomar Daniel (J.D.) Isip published his first collection of poetry, Pocketing Feathers, with Sadie Girl Press (2015). His works—including poetry, fiction, and plays—have appeared in many print and online journals including Ethel Zine, Borderlands, Pilgrimage Press, and Sandpiper. He is a full-time English professor in Plano, Texas.

 

Small Print: All poems were judged blind and no poet received any special treatment or unfair advantage. Membership in the Nebraska Poetry Society was not required to enter the contest.