Saturday, August 20, 2005

Cantos of Lotus in Her Bowl

Yesterday I received my August Strophes in the mail—the newsletter for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. In it were listed all the winners of its annual contest, including two prizes for Sacramento's SpiralChapper Pearl Stein Selinsky: a First in the Columbine Poets of Colorado Award, and a 2HM in the League of Minnesota Poets Award. Congratulations, Pearl!

Otherwise, there was quite a dirth of California poets listed among the 500 winners in the 50 award categories. This is, of course, not due to lack of talent—could it be left-coast discrimination? More likely, Californians don't enter much. The annual contest is huge, including all sorts of diverse categories, such as sonnets, minutes and various other forms (the Gloss??), humor, lunch, cats, William Stafford, "any inanimate object", narrative, environment, heritage, power of woman, lots of "any subjects", and more. It might be fun for you to send for a pamphlet and try some of the categories, even if you don't send them in. If you're interested, check out the website: for next year, or write to Russell H. Strauss, 18 S. Rembert St., Memphis, TN 38104. NFSPS also sponsors a national convention in various parts of the country—a couple of years ago, it was in Oregon.

Or you can support the California State Poetry Society—becoming a member of that group automatically makes you a member of NFSPS and they'll send all the stuff to you. (Don't worry—you don't have to go to any meetings, because they don't have any.) They do, however, sponsor a monthly contest, plus publishing CQ (California Quarterly), a beautiful journal of poetry which is edited on a rotating basis—our own Joyce Odam is one of those editors—and a newsletter which also accepts poetry submissions. Sacramento Poet of Note Do Gentry has a poem in the current issue of CQ, edited by Russell Salamon and Kate Ozbirn. I don't know if CSPS has a website; write to CSPS, P.O. 7126, Orange, CA 92863.

Time for a poem! Speaking of Oregon, this one is from a former Sacramentan who moved up there (via Mississippi).

—Steve Williams

I am rain barrel of black
water that ripples up staves,
through itself, until perfect
circles crawl outward in harmony
to that which is not made by man.

I am a woman who carries a singing
bowl up tilted valleys into the Himalayas
until her lungs sting through ice.
There I sound the "E" of the bowl,
join with low moans from flutes
of granite canyons.
Inside a glacial pool, near a boulder
that threatens to fall, a lotus rises,
blooms its primordial cry.

From one Pacific edge to another, sound
swirls in dark depths, turqoise shallows.
I am whale beached by wave upon wave,
cantos of lotus in her bowl, music
of mother to her son.


Watch for more of Steve Williams' poetry in Snake 7, due out in September, or send an SASE to 4708 Tree Shadow Place, FO 95628 and I'll mail you his broadside, littlesnake broadside #1. And check out his poetry website/workshop:


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets.