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WRBH Blog: Poetry Contest Winners Meet and Perform

Poetry On A Friday Afternoon

 From a competitive field of hundreds of entries across Greater New Orleans, four winners have been selected for the inaugural WRBH Reading Radio Poetry Contest celebrating April’s National Poetry Month. WRBH poetry contest winners included: 1st Place – Elizabeth Theriot; 2nd Place – Christine Achille Gunter; 3rd Place – David Armand; and Honorable Mention – Phillip Mollere.

1st Place Winner Elizabeth Theriot
1st Place Winner Elizabeth Theriot

 

First place winner Elizabeth Theriot graduates this month from the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in English and a Creative Writing concentration, and in the fall will attend the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa as an Master of Fine Arts MFA candidate. Elizabeth’s poetry often involves an intertextual approach to myth and fantasy, as well as a focus on the experiences of women in the South. 

“It was an immense honor and surprise to be chosen as first place winner in WRBH’s contest. Literature is truly the breath of our city, and I’m thrilled to be a part of such an amazing, lively community of readers and writers,” said Elizabeth.

Printed versions of the poems
A look at the poems printed on the page

 

WRBH’s poetry contest drew a wide range of poems from locals including Free Verse, Narrative, Sonnet and Haiku, among other forms. Each winner got the chance to go in-studio and record his or her poem in preparation for on-air play. Listen to each person perform their own poem via the embedded Soundcloud player at the top of the page or read the poems yourself right below:


 

Finalists Christine Achille Gunter (left) and Phillip Mollere (right).
Finalists Christine Achille Gunter (left) and Phillip Mollere (right).

The Tryst (Honorable Mention)
Written by Phillip Mollere
 
As scent of jasmine filled the air
On a sultry New Orleans night,
Two figures slid with furtive care
Through streets full bathed in lunar light.
 
Upon a moonlit garden wall,
Two shades in love’s embrace were cast;
Entrapped in Cupid’s mystic thrall,
The shadows held each other fast.
 
By thrill of rendezvous entranced,
The lovers dared not speak out loud,
As summer’s eerie lightning danced
From cloud to rainless cloud.
 
A Creole, he – an Anglo, she,
Together in their Eden stood,
And there they shared in secrecy
Their banquet of forbidden food.
 
And each, in separate silent prayer,
Prayed for the coming day and time
When they could openly declare,
“Im hers, and she is mine!”
 
The bond between them never broke,
But that day was ne’er to be:
He died beneath the Dueling Oak;
Of boken heart died she.
 
Now still on sultry moonlit nights,
Drawn back into Love’s mystic thrall,
Two shadows from their graves take flight
To meet again on garden wall.

 My Fabulous Dinner (Honorable Mention)
Written by Christine Achille Gunter
 
The night of my fabulous dinner
Everyone was there.
Isadora Duncan
Danced with Fred Astaire.
 
We chuckled at the anecdotes
Shared by Oscar Wilde,
We feasted on dainty delicacies
Whipped up by Julia Child.
 
Buddy Holly kissed me
But he called me ‘Peggy Sue’,
Shakespeare recited some poetry;
Dr. Suess did too.
 
Elvis and Janis sang a duet
While Mozart played along;
Capote just fumed in the corner
And said they did everything wrong.
 
Michelangelo spent the whole night on his back
And decorated my ceiling.
Sigmund Freud smoked a Cuban cigar
And told us all how we were feeling.
 
Marilyn Monroe and JFK
Played footsie under the table
While Vivien Leigh and Jean Harlow
Flirted with Clark Gable.
 
I tangoed with Frank Sinatra,
Debated with Ronald Reagan;
I played chess with Albert Einstein
Then counted stars with Dr. Carl Sagan.
 
I listened to Amelia Earhart
Tell all about her flight
Then Jimmy Hoffa told me
What really happened that night.
 
Cleopatra amused Ernest Hemingway
By showing him her snake.
Scott Joplin played the piano,
Marie Antoinette served cake.
 
Ben Franklin went to bed early,
The Marquis de Sade stayed up late.
Hendrix passed out in his soup bowl,
Which bothered Spencer and Kate.
 
Bonnie and Clyde drank whiskey,
Queen Victoria sipped at her tea,
Zelda Fitzgerald had gin and tonics,
John Belushi shared beer with me.
 
At last it was time to say goodnight,
Billie Holliday showed them the door.
Errol Flynn carried me off to our bed —
We left Socrates drunk on the floor.

 
Finalist David Armand and son
Finalist David Armand and son

“Photograph of My Father” (3rd Place)
Written by David Armand

You’re standing in the kitchen of that old trailer
that you rented for us on Davidson Road
and where we lived for a couple of months
while you cleared some land just north of here in Folsom
to put another trailer that you were going to buy brand new.

I remember that one of the toilets in that old place
never flushed right and the whole trailer leaned
on its cinder blocks so that all the doors inside
hung wrong and they would creak open
in the middle of the night sometimes.

But there was a horse paddock in the front yard,
a couple of stalls where once I watched
you help deliver a colt and where another time
I saw you get kicked in the chest by its father.

There was also a great field where we rode Go-Karts
and where one time you pulled my brother and me
behind your truck on our scooters
with a piece of rope you found in the shed.

We hunted quail back there in that field too,
pitched baseballs, shot bows and arrows
at little paper targets. And we went fishing
in a pond that was on another man’s land.

That’s where you caught the fish you’re holding
in this picture. It’s a bass that for some reason
you called “Walter.” Its silver scales and wide mouth
are open around your closed hand and its caudal fin
comes all the way down to your belt—
I swear that fish must’ve been three feet long.

You’re smiling about as much as you ever did here:
your teeth aren’t showing. Just a tight, hard grin
that’s barely visible beneath your beard
and your beer-reddened face and cheeks.

You’re also younger in this picture
than I am now, probably by at least five years,
and have only a dozen more left to live.
But of course you don’t know that here.
How could you?

Behind you the counter’s covered with grocery bags,
a box of Frosted Flakes, some pots and pans
and their lids. There’s a sugar bowl, paper towels
a couple of two liter bottles of Coke, a coffee maker.

You’re standing in front of that counter
and just to the right of a dingy yellow refrigerator
wearing dark jeans and green hospital scrubs
that you got when you went to the Emergency Room
after you nailed your hand to a rabbit cage that time.
Do you remember that?

Anyway, this fish you’re holding is staring out
past your thick, dark arms, past the mess
of our kitchen and the mess of the life you built
for us but that was still somehow pretty good.


Aurora (2nd Place)
Written by Kasey Edison
 
Some say whistling at the northern lights
will make her dance to your tune,
 
will keep dreams from circling
the raw air of winter.
 
The lights thread through the wind,
interrupt each other on restless nights.
 
The planets twist among themselves,
unable to break free.

Elizabeth Theriot reads her poem
Elizabeth Theriot reads her poem

Hallelujah By and By (1st Place)
Written by Elizabeth Theriot
 
The biggest drinks are frozen with extra shots
that go bang and leave holes, sweet
with the spittle of Bacchus, like how I was
delivered by a flash of lightning.
 
Bang to remember
that our midnight house was a creaking forest
papered with mystery novel dust jackets
when I followed Maw-Maw’s steady metronomic snores
into sheets blanketed with detergent and Dove soap,
jagged moonlight resting on her feet, warm skin
a second skin cocooning me.
Bang went the shutters
begging to be brought in from August rain
that cried like blue eyes while the kettle gloated
and Mama, all legs in cut-off shorts,
brought a mug of honey-sweet tea to her mother
reading by the window and listening to Willie Nelson.
 
Bang over broken branches
when to escape the heat we hunted for ice
down River Road, the magazine on my lap sleek
with androgynous boys, the corpses scratching
behind the radio screaming for New Orleans.
 
“I guess we’ll just have to adjust” and I would
move to the city, misplace myself in the hands of distraction
braiding my hair with poppies and silly string but first
before Christmas her eulogy clung to my tongue like coffee grinds
and the sky’s jaundiced Cyclops eye watched, unblinking
while I waited for rain that wasn’t even a suggestion and
you were always on my mind.
 
“Que sera sera”
she might have said but her silence
made the ground silence and my speakers would not silence
for months hitchhiking with Jeff Buckley down Desolation Row
to follow Janis Joplin’s ghost, my thumb broken
our threaded fingers bleeding beneath the nails.
I left my sweat and blood in puddles on the ground,
red skin peeling like sheets brought in from a storm.
 
Back home the roof leaked all through summer
petty drops that helped Mama’s hair change color.
Tea leaves tell me
where my past went to, buried in a dense and lurid swamp.
 
Picture of the winners!
WRBH Poetry Winners: (Left To Right) Phillip Mollere, Elizabeth Theriot, Christine Achille Gunter and David Armand.

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