Bugle contestants probe gratitude, civility

By Laura Adrian

I had the honor and privilege of serving as the judge for the Park Bugle’s 14th Annual Poetry Contest in conjunction with National Poetry Month in April.

Poetry is an art form I deeply appreciate, as it offers a unique avenue to unpack moments or experiences in a cathartic, inspiring and thought-provoking manner.

What struck me about all the entries was their ability to provide a glimpse into the worldview of their creators and their unique take on this year’s theme, “gratitude and civility.” Participants submitted poems on a variety of topics such as nature, travel, crises, family and everyday life.

I want to express my own gratitude to everyone who took the time to submit a poem. Selecting the winners was a challenging task, as I carefully read through each submission multiple times, with the authors’ names removed during the judging process.

From my perspective, the most effective poems focused on specific moments, scenes and central themes which I found to be particularly impactful.

Additionally, I looked for poems that were emotionally moving or thought-provoking, and those that conveyed a specific event or experience in a way that pointed to universal experiences or deeper truths. I also considered technical aspects such as structure and word choice.

The winning poems effectively illustrated gratitude without necessarily using the word itself.

First place: The first-place poem, “What We Took,” struck me for its use of specific examples, such as Malt-O-Meal and Cream of Wheat, which anchored me into the author’s world with vivid images. The overall message of the poem felt relevant and relatable.

Second place: In second place was “As Has Become My Habit,” which beautifully depicted a scene at a hospital with clarity and poignancy. It highlighted the power of kindness from strangers, a sentiment many of us have experienced firsthand.

Third place: The third-place poem, “The orchid, the tree, and the whittler: An ode to time,” had a wonderful flow to it and evoked a strong sense of the poignancy of life and death, as well as everything in between.

Honorable mention: Another standout poem that received an honorable mention was “Lines from a Daughter.” What stood out about this piece was its unfolding depth upon multiple readings. It had a well-crafted structure and word choice that effectively conveyed emotion and meaning in a concise manner.

Congratulations to all the winners and heartfelt thanks to all who participated in this year’s contest. Your contributions made this a truly enriching experience for all involved. 

Laura Adrian is the social media specialist for the Park Bugle.

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