PCCA is now accepting entries for the 23rd Annual Poetic Excellence Awards. Anyone may enter; however, only Perry County residents will be eligible for the title of Perry County Poet Laureate. Other prizes include First, Second, Third, Honorable Mention, the Kenneth P. Allen Award for poems written in any form with the theme of “Love in the Time of Coronavirus,” chosen by last year’s KPA Award winner Crystal Flauaus, and the new Siggy David Award for poems written in any form with the theme of “Gratitude.”
ENTRY DEADLINE: April 16, 2021
Ready to submit your entry?
After you pay your entry fee below using your debit or credit card, you will be prompted to upload your entry as a single pdf file. Please be sure to read the guidelines to ensure you have included your cover sheet with proper identification of your poems entered for the themed awards. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with Poetry Contest in the subject line.
Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Letters from Limbo. Her other books are Burning of the Three Fires, which was a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, Curious Conduct, and Placebo Effects, which won the National Poetry Series in 1996. She is also coeditor of the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Good Poems for Hard Times, Harvard Review, The Manhattan Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2007, and many others. She won the 2009 Dana Award for Poetry. She currently teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd St. Y and has also taught for the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine, Rutgers University, and the Frost Place. She was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs and now resides in Manhattan.
Winning poets are invited to read their poems during the awards ceremony. Stick around for Coffeehouse afterwards!
Lynne Reeder, “Measuring Infinity”
My oldest daughter loves math.
Every birthday balloons into equations for her.
What year was Yaya born?
How old will I be in seventh grade?
Mommy, how old are you?
My oldest daughter wants numbers
but I speak a different language.
I smooth her tangled hair and straighten the dreamcatcher she has pinned
to the headboard of her bed.
I am autumn leaf old, child.
I am broken crayons and Sunday mornings and sweater blankets old.
I am dyed hair and black leggings and just one more chocolate old.
I am missing sweet tea at my grandmother’s kitchen table,
I am my grandmother’s kitchen table in our dinging room because she is no
longer here to give it a home years old.
I am thousands of students years old.
I am ancient as the pale blue of your irises.
I am still a child myself.
I am one moment at a time years old.
I am questions that have no answers old.
I am old enough to know that what it is you’re really asking
but instead I smile as I pick up your worn teddy bear, the one threadbare at
the seams and missing his eyes, the Tiresias prophet of our house, the stuffed animal that once
was mine when I, too, was interested in the ages of the women I love, and I say,
I’m 35, sweetie.
My oldest daughter unwraps my words and tucks them beneath her pillow,
where fairies sometimes visit.
She crosses the days off her calendar because she is still young enough to
believe that days can be contained by grids and tucked beneath black marker X’s.
I am mother years old, infinite and enduring,
blood in your veins and thoughts in your head and bigger than myself because of you years old.
And I find that perhaps I too am learning to love math
or at least the perpetual and ceaseless possibilities existing in the numbers defining us.
Crystal Flauaus, “Life Exposed”
Black, white, brown, yellow,
Skin color does not define me.
Eyes of blue, black, green, brown,
All gaze on the same sunset.
Blood flows red, and tears run salty,
The soul has no palette, yet shines with every color.
Cut to the bone, white, exposed,
Vessels and arteries, all running red.
A heart, pumping blood, released from its past, cradled in a body of color,
Now encased in a body of a different color.
Jacob Smith, “Hops, Halos and Home”
The 4:00 pm sun
Dances through the window pane,
Lands on my paper.
I tap my pencil against my lip
And trace the outline of a home
On the back of my 3rd grade spelling test.
My brother sits nearby on the couch
Watching Degrassi, his new favorite show.
I don’t pay much attention to it.
Instead I add a fence
Surrounding the yard of my house
And shade in all of the windows.
My dad stumbles into the room
As a character on a TV kisses her girlfriend
“I’m so tired of seeing fags and dykes all over the place.
Doesn’t anybody follow God anymore?”
My grip tightens on the pencil until my knuckles turn white.
He collapses into his rocking chair, Miller Lite splashing from his can.
A drop spills onto my sketch.
I watch the graphite smear.
“Nice drawing, bud,” he mumbles before his heavy eyes give up.
I finish darkening the windows of my house,
Sharpening the posts of the fence,
Add a lock to the front door
In hopes that nobody will find
The man and his husband living inside.
I turn back to look at my dad
And wonder if he’s dreaming of drunken angels in heaven.
Jacob Smith, “St. Augustine”
My family vacations in the same place every year.
It’s nice and we always have a good time but
I know every grain of sand on the beach and
We return to the same restaurants religiously.
I wonder what’s beyond the county lines.
I’ve suggested we venture to new places before but
They’re all afraid that if they don’t get exactly what they expected
They’ll just be disappointed.
My mom asks me to come down to the water with her and
I think that eventually I may but
I’m too deep in thought about how when
A boy likes a girl nobody knows a thing about him
But when a boy likes a boy
Everyone knows everything about him.
The dramatic swivel in his hips between steps,
The heels that he must love to wear and
How his voice stretches to an octave above what any man’s should.
I wonder what people think they know about me.
The city is known for being the oldest in the United States.
I remember one of the years we
Went on a ghost tour through the historic town and
The guide told us that beneath the cobblestone streets and souvenir shops are
Mass graves filled with people killed by yellow fever.
Historians guess it came by ships sailing in from Havana.
He told us that sometimes people would slip into a coma but
Their families would believe them to be dead and so they’d bury them.
They’d wake in the darkness,
Feel their way across the faces of friends and family rotting to bone and
They’d choke on the last bit of air before
Becoming fertilizer for the soil.
I wonder if in that final breath they wished
Even one person had tried to look
Beyond what everyone else assumed.
I wonder if they’re down there,
Skeleton hands reaching for my ankles,
Trying to travel somewhere new before
It is too late.
Lynne Reeder, “call me woman”
hello my name is can i help you / my name is what can i get you / my name is everything okay here / please, check the menu, select which mouth to feed today / nevermind the growling of my own gut / the hunger becoming a part of me / lining my stomach / stabbing my sides / because a woman’s body curls itself around everything it gives / everything we are taught to give / we are made to give / i eat sacrifice for breakfast / lunch / dinner / or rather i cook it / saute it / bake it / set the table / and never sit down / wait for you to open the door / put the napkin in your hand / let me empty myself to fill you / dishes stacking in the sink / use my back as a plate / scrub the floor with my tongue / wash all these words away / spines like new planking / this body is a house constantly being renovated / to everyone else’s tastes / hello my name is make yourself at home / my name is stay as long as you need / my name is you can use my bed / the floor feels more familiar anyway / i’ve placed myself here for years / a woman’s body has a softness right for walking over / let me cushion your feet / a woman’s made for comforting / her name made for sleeping on / with / through / late night dissipating on your tongue / did i sing the right lullaby / call me by your name / change the letters on my forms / put me in terms you can understand / hello my name is his now / i gave mine away / up / hello my name is / whatever you decide