In the first half of 2006 The Ontario Poetry Society1 (TOPS) ran the "Winsome Words" contest. Entries placing first through tenth in each category were published in the "Winsome Words" chapbook produced by TOPS. Entry fees for the contest were quite modest2, as were the cash prizes offered for first through third place in each category.

Although not a member of TOPS, I proudly own one of the aforementioned chapbooks, having duly received it as a contest runner-up. Within its pale green covers lies my free verse poem, boldly displaying itself on the sinister side of the centerfold3. The chapbook actually holds 22 poems in total, as in addition to the contest winners, it includes one poem by each of the two contest judges4.

Poems submitted to the contest were subject to specific rules of composition and could be entered in either of the Rhyme or Free Verse categories. The contest's rules, at their essence, were these:

Seems simple, yes? Well, linoleum in particular was a bit of a stickler. Indeed, Winsome Words' closing poem, by Rhyme judge Gary E. Miller, is entitled "Linoleumania" and is an amusing ode to the troubles caused to aspiring poets by that word. Amusing to anyone who competed in this contest, anyway!

I'm toying with using these same rules for an e2 poetry contest, with a different word list of course. Monkeys and soy are a given for such a list. Suggestions for other words (or expressions of horror at the very idea) are welcome.

But I'm stalling. My purpose here is to publish my submission to the contest here on e2. I do this with no small amount of trepidation. Everything2's treatment of both poems and poets has been uneven at best over the years. I have excused myself from past debates on the merits of poetic efforts by claiming ignorance. My knowledge of poetic theory and concepts is perilously close to nil. My knowledge of the classics runs to The Cremation of Sam McGee and There once was a man from Nantucket as much as to the works of Blake and Chaucer. But now that I'm admitting to being a 'published' poet5 that dog won't hunt any more.

I have been dithering for a few weeks, since I got the chapbook. I was unsure if I'd post the poem here, but rootbeer277's September 16, 2006 has convinced me to do so. rb challenges us to "take chances" and to node outside our comfort zone in order to take advantage of e2's feedback mechanisms and thus to improve our writing. Few things are more uncomfortable for me than poetry, so without further stalling, I give you For a Wounded Land.

P.S. After hard work in the Google mines, I was able to unearth one other winning entry online, Linda Lee Crosfield's "Stones For The Fire Pit" (published as Stones For A Fire Pit in Winsome Words). It can be found on her Purple Mountain Poetry6 web site. Those wishing to see yet more examples of classic "Man versus Linoleum" conflict can order the Winsome Words chapbook directly from The Ontario Poetry Society.

  1. Ontario, Canada.
  2. 1 Poem for $3 CDN, additional poems $1 CDN each.
  3. "sinister side of the centerfold" &mdash Now, that's poetry. Or perhaps simply alliteration. No matter, I know what I like.
  4. Free Verse was judged by April Bulmer (web site), Rhyme judged by Gary E. Miller
  5. Me, For a Wounded Land Winsome Words. The Ontario Poetry Society. Thornhill, ON: Beret Days Press, 2006.
  6. Purple Mountain Poetry web site