Newsflash! Maria W. Faust Winning Sonnets Announced–And One Was My Poem, “Carp”!


On July 30, 2016, Tim and I traveled to Winona, Minnesota for our annual treat–listening to the reading of the winning sonnets from the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest–a closing event for the famous Great River Shakespeare Festival. We then spent the day along the Mississippi River to celebrate our anniversary which falls in early August.

Since I first learned about this contest in 2013, I have been not only impressed by the great variety, beauty, and power of the winning poems, I have begun, much more frequently, to “think in sonnet form.” What I mean by that is that the meter, rhyme schemes, and rhetorical structures offered by the sonnet form(s) are now etched more deeply into my poetic consciousness. Consequently, while I have been writing sonnets for thirty years, I write many more of them these days–Shakespearian, Petrarchan, the odd “curtal sonnet” (with homage to Gerard Manly Hopkins), and fourteen-line poems I call “sonnet-like objects.”) Of course, with all of these sonnets arriving, every year I select a few to enter in the contest, despite knowing that the competition is steep.

This year, I was surprised and pleased to get a phone call the week prior from Ted Haaland, husband of the late Maria W. Faust, who runs the contest. He told me that my own poem, “Carp,” written this spring, was one of this year’s winners, and asked whether I would like to read it at the event. It was great fun.

A list of winners from all nine years, and the texts of winning sonnets for 2015 and 2016 can be found HERE. For those of you who want to try your own hand, the site also has a very helpful section on the mechanics of sonnet creation. Contestant poems can be received sometime in January for the 2017 contest–you can also bookmark the site and check back in the New Year for the exact date.

Meanwhile, do enjoy reading the work online, and consider purchasing the beautifully made anthology showcasing winning poems from the first five years (2008-2012) of the contest.

sonnet Cover Melody

(Copies can be ordered from Ted Haaland, whose contact information can be found at the link above.)

And when you think of Winona, nestled into the limestone bluffs next to the storied waters of the Mississippi, think, too, of the annual movement of fine sonnets, from all over the nation and beyond our borders, flowing into the little jewel of an art town.

Enjoy the waning days of summer!  LESLIE

Flowers Initials

News Flash! I’ve Published a Sonnet in ABLE MUSE


When I learned that the literary journal Able Muse had accepted my poem, I not only felt like dancing, I’m told by my family that I did, in fact, do a little happy dance. My sonnet, “Visage,” appears in the Winter 2015 issue, just out, and also in the online publication (complete with a voice clip of me reading the sonnet–scroll down a bit.)

Able Muse is one of the journals I most admire. Based in San Jose, California, it began in 1999 as an online journal published twice a year. After ten years, the founding editor, Alex Pepple, expanded it to include a print version of rare physical beauty, while continuing to publish a companion digital version. Each issue contains poetry (mostly metrical) along with art and photography, and fiction and non-fiction (including reviews, essays, and interviews). To learn more, and to subscribe, click HERE. (A subscription would make a wonderful gift for a literary friend or for yourself.)

At the Able Muse site, you can also learn about their press, their book prize, their anthology, and their companion forum, Eratosphere, designed to encourage respectful and insightful comments on poetry as it grows from inspiration (Erato is the muse of lyric poetry) into polished form.

My own work can sometimes take a long time to polish. For “Visage”–the one just published in Able Muse–it took rather longer than usual. I wrote the first version of my sonnet when I was in my early twenties, and I have kept revising it over the years. It is in response to William Shakespeare’s sonnet #73, which goes like this:

That time of year though mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Shakespeare’s masterful work is one I love. Over the years, I have memorized it and enjoyed it, but I don’t always agree with it. My own sonnet is a response to this one that was written from the point of view of a middle-aged man. Neither sonnet is the whole truth, of course, since getting older is a many-sided and universal process. For me, the truth is certainly riddled with duality: I love my life as it is now–all its shapes and contours–and I also struggle to accept certain changes (both internal and external).

I do know that I wouldn’t be twenty-three again for anything! And I am glad that I kept faith with this poem, kept tweaking it here and there, and that I lived long enough to see it published in such a multi-faceted jewel of a journal.




Sonnets, P.S.

In the post I just published, “In Celebration of Sonnets”, there is a new feature: audio clips of me reading the first four sonnets. This did not translate into email, at least not in my inbox. It is there on the website: To find the post with ease, return to the original emailed post and just click on the blue headline!


Love technology!Sonnet Ice Heart