Annual Poetry Contest

April 9, 2014, 1:00 p.m.


2014 Winners listed below)        

ELIGIBILITY: *Adults over 18; living within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis.

*Any person having won first prize in the contest twice within the last five years is ineligible for further cash awards but may be cited for honors.

RULES: *Submit TWO TYPED COPIES of TWO poems, which have never been published or won an award. 

*Use 8 1/2 x 11 paper with no more than one poem to a page. 

*Sign with pseudonym ONLY. 

*Type real name, address, e-mail address and telephone number on a separate sheet of paper and enclose with poems.  No manuscripts returned.

SEND TO: Marilyn Ortinau; ORIGINAL POETRY CONTEST; 1156 New Ballwin Oaks, Dr., Ballwin, MO 63021

PRIZES:  $500,  $300, $150


*Author of two award-winning books of poetry, Old and New Testaments and The Zone of Paradise
*Author of new book of nonfiction, Framing Innocence:  A Mother’s Photographs, A Prosecutor's Zeal, and a Small Town’s Response
*Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council
*Published in literary journals, such as The Paris Review and Poetry, and in numerous anthologies, including 180 More:  Extraordinary Poems for Everyday and recent edition of The Norton Introduction to Literature
*Worked extensively as a Poet in the Schools and has taught as a visiting writer at Cornell University, University of Akron and Oberlin College

2014 Winners

First Place-Justin Phillip Reed
Second Place-Travis Mossotti
Third Place-Katherine Gordon
Honorable Mention-Jennifer Fandel, Teddy Norris and Sister Barbara Schlatter

With permission of the authors, the winning poems are listed below:


      Once again the white-haired deaconesses have taken me in their hats.
I'm stolen away with the latticework of lace netting bundled in the brims.
The gospel has them by the gills. I forget to tune out the sermon.
I astrally project from polyester flower to the next. Lord, let me die
in a hat like this, with a big white ribbon in a Baptist bow. I'll catch the holy
ghost like a three-day cold. I'll say the grape juice tastes just like
lamb's blood. Just grant me this sanctified celebrity — my crown high
as heaven, my head and first hand waving, my front row reservation.
Mark my shoulder pads: I'll be up to my heavy, wet lashes in the Word.
Let the church say Amen at every breath of my testimony, but let the faces
look on my hat without interruption. Lord, to be topped with homage
to your grace. Oh, to nestle my skull in a bouquet of mauve.

Wake at Schrader’s Funeral Home

My grandmother waits for the family
in the Williamsburg Room in lacquered mahogany
clutching a rosary, but I am in no hurry

and thumb instead the funeral home bookshelves
until I find Milton’s spine.  I imagine that under
the layers of this home’s gilded wallpaper

the way forward has already been scried
by laborers who glued each decorative sheet.
This place, the walls say, just grows lovelier and lovelier.

There, a child in plastic shoes drops a penny
into the foyer fountain and stomps off.
She must have wished for her penny

to float like the head of a copper lily.
I find my mother greeting comers
just outside the propped open doors.  I ask her

what I can do to help.  She touches my hand like a stranger,
asks me to bring her mother back
and glistens.


Crisis of Faith
February, dirty dishwater month
of unreliable math — fewer days
but somehow totaling more hours
of relentless gray — month of discontent
when discount stores throw churlish light
on streets gritted with recycled snow,
while the countryside sighs, longs to heave
its pale bulbs and seeds from sodden graves,
month when hearts arrowed with hope lie
abject as inner city dogs on their icy chains,
the month when we whine and stalk illusion,
wrestle it to the ground to see it bleed.



"The angel carried me away in spirit,
to the top of a very high mountain,”

the preacher proclaims,
"and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God."
"Picture that very high mountain,"
the preacher says.

I think:  Everest,
its jagged stone thumb poking the blue sky,
nothing higher in the world-‑
except the climber--let's say Edmund Hillary
or Tenzing Norgay, whoever came first in 1953.
I wonder if that Revelations man
shivered in white cold,
gulped thin air,
squinted, snow blind?
"Picture the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven,"
the preacher continues.
And here comes this curve of city
spiraling from the heavens like a wide-wired slinky,
bug-eyed people clinging to gleaming gates,
their white robes flying
in its dizzying descent.
it lands,
teeters precariously on the peak,
a coiled see-saw, buildings sliding back and forth,
its fulcrum the squashed glove of Hillary...or Norgay...
or some barrel-lunged Sherpa
who climbed to the sky
to find God.



(2014 Winners listed below)     

ELIGIBILITY: High School Students in grades 10 through 12 in High Schools in St. Louis and the St. Louis area.

RULES: Submit TWO original poems. Send THREE copies of each poem, one poem to a page. Students should sign each poem in the upper left hand corner with a PEN NAME. On a separate sheet of paper, student should sign REAL NAME, STREET ADDRESS, ZIP CODE, EMAIL ADDRESS, NAME OF SCHOOL, TEACHER'S FULL NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS and seal in envelope with PEN NAME ON OUTSIDE.

Entries must be submitted through the school’s English Departmentand must follow the rules.  No manuscripts will be returned.

SEND TO: Betty Smith, Junior Poetry Contest, 555 Couch Avenue, Apt. #323, St. Louis, MO 63122, 314-394-1478

EMAIL: bettyjs@charter.net

PRIZES:100, $60, $40, $20, and $10


 *Author of six books of poetry:  Here and Hereafter (2005); Pelican Tracks (2003); Winter Amnesties (2000); Color Photgraphs of the Ruins (1992); Tropical Depressions (1988); Relics (1994)
*Won the Arkansas Poetry Award as well as the Ohioana Poetry Award
*Awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Ohio Arts Council
*Served as editor of the Akron Series in Poetry at the University of Akron Press
*Teaches at University of Akron

2014 Winners

First Place-Gabrielle Hogan
Second Place-Elizabeth Gibson
Third Place-Emma Sitek
Fourth Place-Irene Ryan
Fifth Place-Jordon Roodman
Honorable Mention-Allison Beard, Elizabeth Gibson, Carlo Herbosa, Gabrielle Hogan and Irene Ryan