First Place ($50)
“Steam” by Sabrina Guo, 12

Second Place ($25)
“Moonlight” by Ashley Xu, 13

Third Place ($10)
“Octopus” by Marco Lu, 12

Honorable Mentions
“Snowflake” by Emma Almaguer, 13
“A Tree” by Andrew Lin, 8
“The Cloud” and “Disappearing” by Madeline Nelson, 12
“Seeing the Sea,” Maya Viswanathan, 12

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated; we all had fun reading and simply looking at your creations.

The pieces that ended up standing out to us were the ones that not only showed us the writer had a clear understanding of the concrete poem but that used the shape of the poem to emphasize and illustrate the text. For instance, in “Steam” by Sabrina Guo, a poem in the shape of a steaming cup of tea, the word “interrupting” is itself interrupted by the handle of the mug: “interrup” is on one side of the handle, and “ting” is on the other. In that poem, Guo writes of “slow curling spirals” of steam, just as the text itself spirals around, forcing the reader to turn the page, creating a dizzying effect.

What I love about the concrete poem is that it brings the relationship between the form (or shape) of the poem and its content (or text) to the forefront. Sometimes when we are writing, we simply default to the “usual” form without thinking about it. But in the best pieces of writing, the form is something that emerges from the ideas and narratives represented in the text. You can usually tell if this is the case by trying to rewrite the poem or story in a different form. If your poem feels the same in prose as it does in stanzas with lines, then it probably doesn’t need to be in stanzas! I hope you will try this with a piece of writing you are struggling with, and see if it opens up more ideas.

We will publish the winning submissions in Stone Soup in 2019.

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One Comment
  1. William Rubel October 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm Reply

    My personal congratulations to each of you who placed in this contest and my thanks to each of you who sent in concrete poems but didn’t place. The quality of the contest entries was uniformly high. Thank you all!

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