Sign of Early Spring

Every year, we wait for it. The tiny Siberian wildflower known to us as scilla, announces spring as nothing else does. I had never heard of it before moving to Northfield, but now it is one of my very favorites.

In a few weeks, the whole town will be awash with these intense blue blooms. For several weeks now, I have been watching the hearty green spears begin to poke out of the ground and take snow squalls in their stride. Today–when the sky was an iron-fisted grey, not allowing a single golden ray or a glimpse of blue to slip through the clouds–the muddy ground yielded this exciting vanguard of spring. Very cheering!



2017 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest Now Accepting Entries!

For sonnet writers and two important dates are approaching fast: April 11 and June 1!
Entries for the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest need to be postmarked by June 1.  For clarification about the contest rules and the sonnet forms allowed, click here: Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Everyone is eligible. Winning sonnets from past years are posted, and they are inspiring.
Maria W. Faust with Bittersweet
 Maria W. Faust
The April 11th “Kick-Off” event will be at Winona’s Blue Heron (on 2nd Street and Johnson in downtown).  It’s set for 7 PM, with music by the Flutistry trio, beginning about 6:15.  Snacks will be provided by the Blue Heron.  Winona’s current Poet Laureate, Ken McCullough, and recent Poet Laureate, Emilio DeGrazia, will attend. These masters of the form will offer some insights into sonnet writing, as well as our contest.  There are plans for a Speed-Sonnet writing time, based on a list of rhyming end-words provided, and for some sharing of sonnets by attendees–either their own work or classic favorites–if time permits.
Blue Heron
 Blue Heron
And later in the summer, winning sonnets are announced and read at an event at Winona State University by members of the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
I have been aware of this constellation of sonnet-celebrating events since 2011. In that time, I have seen it grow each year. With a growing number of entries from all over the country and even abroad, more sonnets have been awarded prizes. The range of work in terms of subject and tone, and the uniform high level of skill is clearly encouraging new appreciation for the power of the sonnet, as well as showcasing vital contemporary work cast in this classic form. I see that, for myself, I have written more sonnets in recent years than I ever have, and it surprises me how often now an intriguing iambic pentameter line pops into my head.
I don’t know if I will have anything this year worthy of submitting, but knowing the contest deadline looms is always stimulating. We’ll see! Meanwhile, why not check out the past winning sonnets and see? Better yet, if your schedule permits, rendezvous at the Blue Heron on April 11 and enjoy being immersed in iambs for an evening!



April & National Poetry Month–And NaPoWriMo Returns!

Poetry Quote Plutarch

Poem Barn One

This year, I am again going to participate in the National Poetry Writing Month project–“NaPoWriMo” to insiders!  If you aren’t familiar with this annual “poetry boot camp”, you can learn more about it here. This is a fantastic website–run by a visionary volunteer poet named Maureen Thorsen–that offers poetry lovers a wealth of ideas and interesting links, and even provides writing prompt suggestions each day in April. (Thank you, Maureen!)

Analogous to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which attracts more than 300,000 writers who sign up to write 50,000 words during the month of November (and hold themselves accountable by posting their word counts each day), the poetry version invites poets to write (and if they wish, to share publicly through online posting) one poem each day in April.

Having made it across the finishing line last year without skipping any days, I am looking forward to this April’s poetic marathon. I shall try to find some graphic accompaniment for each day’s poem, too.

Thank you for your support–and if you, too, are participating this year, let me know. We can silently cheer each other on!

Yours in Poetry,

Sig Flowers

April 27, 2017 Poem in Your Pocket Day & Poem: “Portable”

for Sandy Petrek

A taste for home
pierces the tongue
early, is easy
to carry
across oceans,
or a whole lifetime.

You’ve been
teaching me
the anchoring tang
of the fresh-caught
raspberry, still dewy,
ripened, just outside
your door;

how to reach
through a forest
of obstacles—
tough green canes,
thorns, tears—
to lift a brief
sweetness to the lips,
and to let it linger.

Leslie Schultz

All over the country, today is POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY.

(A few years ago, my friend, Sandy Petrek and I spearheaded an effort to bring this celebration to Northfield. Look for the red boxes downtown and elsewhere, or tuck a favorite poem fro home into your pocket–read it to someone else or just to yourself, and consider passing it along before the day is done.)    LESLIE

Check out other participants at the NaPoWriMo Challenge 2017 home site!