From Anne Woodworth, 2018 Finalist Judge

To the 2018 Parkmont Poets,

I can’t tell you how sorry I am not to be with you all today, as Poetry Month comes to a close. For me, the Parkmont Poetry Festival is one of the highlights of each year. Congratulations on the fine poems you have written.

I’m going to give you a name that I hope you will never forget. Walter Benjamin. He was a German philosopher, born in Berlin in 1892. He is known partly for his study of covered arcades built in the 1800s in Paris. They were like malls. He collected things from the arcades that helped him understand Paris of the 19th century. He compiled a manuscript filled with quotes from writers of that period, and he wrote notes of his own. He rummaged through trash, picking up old papers, photographs, documents, books, advertisements, magazines, etc. and found disparate things to put into what he called The Arcades Project, a sentence here, a paragraph there, perhaps a note to himself. It was a sort of collage of words. He called them his “convolutes.”

Recently, I have taken sentences I find in magazines, and put them together in what I call “convolutes.” On the surface, the sentences I choose have no relevance to each other; but put together in poem form, they end up having a surprising connection.

Here is a convolute that I’ve made from your poems. I took a line or two or three from each of the forty poems in your book and created another poem. Read it aloud. Listen for your line. You’ll be surprised how these disparate lines—from such diverse poets as you—can actually create a rational whole, showing us just how tied to each other we all are. I am honored to have made a convolute with your words.

Congratulations on your poetry. Keep writing!

The Child Speaks

a convolute from 40 Parkmont poems, 2018

The Child took the Elder’s hands and whispered of the twilit sky. A whisper looks like a shooting star.

“I can’t be touched,” the Child said to the Elder. “I’m like a wildflower, and your nectar flows through the caverns of my consciousness,

as I drive toward the red, yellow, pink and purple horizon. I am a butterfly seeking the light, wings high in the air, a pallet of colors.

I’m tiptoeing like I’m dancing. I was raised by a TV-is-a-waste-of-your-brainpower kind of mother. I’m lonely when she’s not here, and the cry

of daybreak creeps through my slitted shades. We know the harsh truth of how our parents are unseen, but they love me to the moon and back.

 

On the highest branch, leaves uncurl and, still delicate, rise to meet a new sun. Struggle is fire to me, the pain I face every day. To the icy cold the fire surrenders.

Only the fiery sun remains to listen to my pleas. The brilliant idea of it feels like a surprise burst into bright light like a hand moving

through the soft waves of the blue ocean. How will the lion pride’s roar echo through the winds and sky? I paint my skies

pink and blue and white, and all the pearly colors make my heart pound. A swing, a white tint, the sun coming down lovely.

Would you care to look at my painting? Who are you?—you, the steam on the mirror after a hot bath. I have never been here, clouds grey overhead too.

I give notice to the fog and breathe it in yellow. If you ask me my name I won’t hear you, I’m deaf as a sunflower, tumbling through

choking wind from a phosphorescent dandelion field. The gates are shut tight. Not even hope can come from Pandora’s box. My heart is crying.

 

I am dead like the day, and my shadow is talking for me, lying on the floor, coiled up. And in telling this story I haven’t yet rhymed.

[Poetry] strolls down the sunny streets in flip-flops. A poem is the tiny voice inside one’s head that cries to be let out. Silence is itself a season,

and almost unbearable. We don’t just say the words, which are thrown around like they don’t pierce flesh. I will always seem trapped inside a box,

Sadness’s laptop—the smell of burnt rubber and of lies that have been whispered in the street, looking like broken glass, shattered in the sky.”

The Elder offered the Child a cookie. “I taste the cookie,” the Child said. “It’s sweet and full of hope.”