According to Laura Washburn, who teaches creative writing in the Department of English at Pittsburg State, the Kansas Arts commission sponsors a weekly contest. In order to compete in this contest, writers must submit a poem (or poems) based on the week's given theme.
“Canese Jarboe and Tayler Klein won in the non-professional category of the very first week,” says Washburn. Jarboe is a freshman English major from Walnut, Kansas, and Klein is a junior English major from Kansas City, Missouri.
Their winning entries may be found at this link.
Washburn, who herself won in the professional category during week 3, favors us with her winning entry below:
VISITING THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
Laura Lee Washburn, Pittsburg
Everyone here is worried about the stars:
too many shine bright: there’s extra milky way;
some line up at strange angles. We can’t find
the constellations we expect, though we admit,
few of their shapes ever made sense to us.
We expected the ground, the trees and the birds
to spike differently, to curve more sharply,
to branch larger and more extravagantly,
but the sky comes as a shock to some, so
vivid with stars as expected, but surprising
in unfamiliarity, strange as driving
on the left of the road where the ghost
car at your right pushes you near ravines,
pedestrians, bikers, ditches, and streams.
So far, I haven’t minded the sky,
haven’t worried about the night’s clouds
covering stars we might learn from books.
When one in our company suggested
we lie on our backs in the sun to contemplate
stars we can’t see but know to exist,
I said if I can’t see them I don’t believe
in them, which makes a joke regarding faith-
lessness, but I think it may also be true.
Why should I remember the ice and misery
of home and cold, the grief pressed down
under a breastbone, the long days of office,
sunless, repairs waiting, the pain of breath?
Like the stars in this hemisphere or that,
in daylight waiting for night, they come back,
it comes back. Everything stays and is felt
whether we chose notice, amaze, or worry,
that pocket stone that presses into dreams,
the new planet whose light blankets dim stars.
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