2008  -  2019

2019 HEART POETRY AWARD $500.00    HEART 14 ~ 2019

January by Jeff Burt, Mount Hermon, California

   “I grew up in Wisconsin, spent time in Texas and Nebraska, and then traveled to California and found a wife and home, though the landscapes of the Midwest still populate my vision. I come from three generations of string reporters, typesetters, editors, preachers and teachers, but I think hanging around with my dad and uncles, listening to them tell stories and fables about rural and small town life, nature and family, had more to do with passing down appreciation, depth, and humor.

"The poem, January, combines the wish for abundant blessing from the sparseness of winter. It references a time I visited my mother after she contracted an infection in her lungs that would lead to cancer. On a cold winter’s day, I had walked swiftly, with effort, and could feel the earth retard my efforts at such speed, as if telling me to stop and regard the surrounding gifts. My lungs burned from the cold, a paradox– grace from grief, fullness from deprivation.”


2018 HEART POETRY AWARD $500.00   HEART 13 ~ 2018

REDEFINED by Carol Oberg, Manistique, Michigan                                   

“Words and the endless ways they can connect have been my lifelong fascination. Books read to me, then by me, brought new worlds into my mind along with a young desire to create stories. Looking back, I wonder how I persisted day after day chasing my dream of writing. My stories had mostly beginning pages that wound up in the trash. Finally, I sent a completed story to Redbooks Young Writer’s Contest where an incredibly kind handwritten rejection letter said my hard work was not necessarily in vain. For the first time, I believed I could be a writer. That year I sat down to write my husband his anniversary card and thought of those passionate cards I admired in the stores. I decided to send it to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. Greeting Cards and, not long afterwards, copies of that card were appearing in stores around the country and even translated into foreign languages. It was very rewarding when I would hear how my words touched the lives of others.
“After I retired, my husband built our new home and included my own writing studio where I still spend the biggest part of my days. I joined a poetry group with my sister. I continue drawn to the freedom and diversity of writing poetry.
“My poem, Redefined began with a memory my parents often shared with lighthearted voices about a frightful night. I decided to write a poem about their memory as if it were coming from a lonely widow missing a cherished spouse. The loss of their routine life once had and believing it would go on forever and the difficulties of finding ways to survive grief.
“I believe everyone can be a poet. The words inside of thoughts and feelings make poetry. I know how I want to write and will continually work towards that end. With a handful of words or pages of them, I want to create poetry that draws others into a new place to see people they may or may not know and hear a story that gives the reader something to think about–which is what good writing does.”


2017 HEART POETRY AWARD $500.00  HEART 12, 2017
   This Moment by Kerri Davidson, New York, NY

       “When I was little my mom brought home a children’s poetry anthology. I read it countless times, continually returning to its weighted pages and watercolor illustrations, letting poetic words guide me to fantastical worlds. At that time poetry expressed the imagination’s boundlessness. As an adult, poetry has become a way for me to express the otherwise inexpressible—the words that don’t fit in texts or emails and aren’t said at the dinner table. They reflect the other world, the stories we don’t tell, the feelings we don’t talk about, the parts of life that can’t be related in literal, straightforward ways. They are the words that are only whispered or felt in the heart.

     “I wrote This Moment after walking home one night in New York City, where the nature I remembered from my Indiana childhood battled the city I was still trying to become accustomed to. It was one of many artificially lit nights when I walked home conflicted over whether I should return to Indiana, to the familiar, or stay in New York City and pursue a dream.
     “I became a writer three times in my life: once when I forgot about a poetry assignment until the night before and whipped out 20 poems, handing them off to my mom in a flurry so she could type them out for me. The second time, when I took a poetry class in college and found that writing and sharing poetry was a way for a shy Indiana girl to covertly express her deepest thoughts with the world (or, at least, with 15 classmates). The third time was when my sister asked me how many times I’d been published and I said none because somehow publishers weren’t finding my poetry notebooks that were stacked at the bottom of my closet. Now I let my poems fly.”

2/17/18 Email Received from Kerri Davidson:

Hi Everyone! I'm really excited to share with you that my first poetry chapbook, How to Fly" is being published by the award-winning small press, Finishing Line Press. This book is a collection of image-filled, accessible poetry that reflects on both life in the Midwest and in NYC. The cover was designed by the very talented artist, Dan White. This book is available for sale now at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/how-to-fly-by-kerri-davidson/. I am very shy about self-promotion, but I really loved working on this book and I would love for you to read it. :) Please feel free to forward this email along to anyone you know who might like this book.

Thanks so much!


From John Williams, Judge: "Pulsing with movement— physical, emotional, and metaphorical, “This Moment” relies on the reader to interpret its many powerful images. The city of the poem is foggy, unclear, vaguely aglow, potentially violent, and the we that traverses it are equally heavied by “the weight of happy endings.” Perhaps we expect too much of the world, and ourselves. Perhaps we fear more than we need to (“Umbrellas are up / but it’s not raining”). The closing image of a blank newspaper whispering “go” elicits a strong contradictory reaction: does “go” mean “leave this place of darkness”? Does it mean to continue walking the same path, but with a greater understanding, a new perspective? In the end, “This Moment” asks more questions than it answers, and like most great poems, leaves us to ponder our own relationship to the world it creates."



             2016 HEART POETRY AWARD $500.00  HEART 11 - 2016
              Winter Field by Margaret Sharp, Knoxville, Tennessee
“I rarely sit down and say, 'it's time to write a poem.' It's usually when I'm doing something else entirely that I think of a line that intrigues me.”            ~Margaret Sharp


“My first childhood memory is of books. My grandmother read to us every night and I was in love with all of the Grimm's fairy tales. Even before I could read, I carried books in my arms or in a child's suitcase. When I was 13, I discovered an old book of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and fell in love with his poem The Rainy Day. I was hooked on poetry and have been ever since.”
Margaret graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and afterwards worked 15 years as an advertising copywriter at The Denver Post. “I loved my job at the newspaper. It was a very stressful environment, but learning to write quickly and on-the-fly was an invaluable skill.” Margaret ‘s poems have been published in literary journals but doesn't consider herself terribly ambitious. “I've had some good luck publishing, but I don't often send things out, or even have a strong desire to do so. I enjoy the work more than I do the rewards that may come from publication. Sometimes I wonder what might happen if I did pick up the pace a bit and try a little harder.”
Margaret says that submitting to Heart was a complete fluke. “I was flipping through a magazine and saw the call for entries. I had two poems I thought might be good and then, at the last minute, I tossed in Winter Field – the poem that John Sibley Williams selected as the winning poem. I almost didn't include it because I felt like it might be too dark and moody, but I'm so happy he liked it, because it's one that I really enjoyed writing. “Whether a poem begins with a few words or a picture in my mind, the idea will often just shoot off from there and, if I'm lucky, turn into something interesting. However, if nothing immediately comes of it, the idea is stored away, sometimes for years. There is a line I wrote probably a decade ago, and it is still floating around in my brain. I love it so much, but I just haven't figured out where it wants to go. I have read poems that consist of a single line. Perhaps that is why I can't go further with my line— because it is already a complete poem.” As for writing Winter Field, Margaret says the poem began as an image. “I'm from Colorado and, no surprise, snowy days in the wilderness come to mind quite often. This particular poem began as a series of images, almost like a little movie in my mind. When the blackbird and the dog appeared on the scene, I knew I had something to work with.”
After living in Knoxville for the past nine years, Margaret plans moving back to Colorado in 2016. “I will miss Knoxville. The people here are lovely. But I miss the Rocky Mountains and the lifestyle in Colorado. I look forward to re-connecting with friends but, mostly, I can't wait for that first snowy winter, the kind that inspired the poem.”



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2015 Winner Spring 2015  Heart #10

Annette Opalczynski - New Castle, Delaware

                                                                   Heart Poetry Award $300


"I think readers will relate to my poems because they are accessible stories. I’m not a big fan of obscure poetry.

Annette Opalczynski became a writer in the fourth grade. She still remembers the classroom assignment that started it all: What would you do if you visited Peter Pan in Neverland? The other kids wrote about a page and Annette wrote seven. In high school, she began writing poetry. She has always wanted to write a novel, but she doesn’t have the patience.

“A poem can be written in one sitting and that gives me a sense of accomplishment. Usually, I work on several poems at the same time, so that if one trail goes cold, I can work on something else. My friends and family are constant sources of inspiration. They provide the joy and the angst that make life worth living. Out of these experiences, I create poetry. I think readers will relate to my poems because they are accessible stories. I’m not a big fan of obscure poetry.”

Annette’s winning poem is based on a trip that she took with her college friends. In 1995, they embarked on a “death vacation,” visiting Arlington Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, and Edgar Allan Poe’s gravesite.

A cemetery tour puts all of your problems in perspective. "



Winner - Heart Poetry Award -

Summer 2013 HEART #9 View Issues & Writers

Ruth Hill - Chetwynd, BC -Canada

“I like complicated thoughts expressed in simple terms.” ~Ruth Hill

Ruth was born and educated in upstate New York. Ruth wanted adventure, so she explored the Adirondacks, Appalachia, and Alaska.
She sailed British Columbia, and worked for BC Lightstations and the BC Forest Service. She became a Design Engineer. She is a lifelong dedicated tutor, and enjoys spoken word.
   “Language is more than language to me. Inside a poem is a great artistic painting. There can be color, focus, perspective, and action.  I enjoy freedom. I like breaking all the rules. I like mixing up multiple metaphors and using words with many connotations. I like free word association. I like complicated thoughts expressed in simple terms. I write poems that are not clearly defined, like riddles, to stimulate the reader’s imagination. Poetry allows sentence structure to be jumbled, pared down, expanded, or jettisoned.
   “Sight and sound are not enough. Poetry has to have philosophy, too. I have noticed poets I am most attracted to have pleasing philosophies. They make me feel like I belong on Earth, not an alien in a foreign country. If someone likes something that I wrote, I feel as if I were invisible and am now seen, silent and can now speak, exiled but am now welcome. A reader on the same wavelength is the most important validation. If I met you in person I would be looking down and shifting my feet, but in a poem I can be the real me.”
In her first three years of writing, Ruth has won contests and had many poems published. She uses poetry readings as her new excuse to travel."



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Winner Heart Poetry Award  $500.00

Heart #8

John Sibley Williams - Portland, Oregon

“...I wrote a few lines on the back of my hand, then a few more on my arm, then raced back to my car for a notebook. I’ve written feverishly ever since.”
~John Sibley Williams

John literally found poetry one summer day while living in Albany, where he studied at the University of New York. While sitting on a creaky wooden dock bobbing on a lake’s arguing currents, he knew he needed to capture the experience in an emotional way. He wrote a few lines on the back of his hand, then a few more on his arm, then raced back to his car for a notebook. He’s written feverishly ever since.
After graduating from UNY, John completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Rivier College, and then began traveling abroad, spending time in Eastern Europe and Iceland, which he chronicled in two chapbooks. Upon returning, he spent two months driving across the US, the experiences becoming his debut chapbook, A Pure River (2010, The Last Automat Press).
In 2009, John moved from Boston, his hometown, to Portland, OR, where he now studies Book Publishing at Portland State University, co-manages the Acquisitions department at Ooligan Press, helps the Marketing department at Three Muses Press, and volunteers at the Regional Arts & Culture Council. His poetry has been nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize, and he’s had work published in over 100 literary journals.
His winning poem, Icelandic Church, stems from his experiences in that country. One evening, John was traveling down a country road and looked up to see a single horse, threadbare and exhausted, standing upon a cliff of volcanic rock that dropped off into the ocean. The scene was eclipsed in fantastical light. From this brief encounter, he wove in other elements from his trip and his imagination to create a narrative he hopes does justice to the experience.



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          Winner Heart Poetry Award $500.00

                         Fall 2010  Heart #7
                      Bo Niles, New York, NY

“In a sense, I have been writing all my life. Don’t we all, in one way or another?”

                                                                                                                    ~Bo Niles

“The desire to write creatively came suddenly and wonderfully,” says Bo. While a college sophomore enrolled in a required course, Biblical History, her theology professor suggested she try creative writing because he liked the sound of her words more than their import! She followed his advice and her life changed. In her junior year, she won the college’s prose prize.
After college, Bo began writing and editing at magazines dedicated to architecture and design, one of which was Country Living where she directed photography of houses and rooms and wrote her own copy. She has written a number of books on home design, as well as a travel memoir with her own illustrations, A Window on Provence, about a summer spent in the South of France with her parents. Now that Bo is retired, she has turned to what she has always loved, poetry. She attends poetry workshops and sends out her poems which have been published in various journals.
When Bo was a child, she lived in New York where her father played and sang at nightclubs. At age 14, her family moved to Florence, Italy, where her dad studied composition, began to compose, and played piano on behalf of the local Consulate. Bo spent her teenage years there and eventually returned to the US where she finished high school and college.
Her winning poem, “Etude” is about her father, the pianist, the musician who helped found The American Composers Orchestra, which commissions and presents American music in New York.
Bo and her husband, Bill, live in New York.



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HEART #6      “A Far Distant Cry”

by Melinda Kemp Lyerly ~ Aberdeen, North Carolina                                  

     On her winning poem, “A Far Distant Cry,” Melinda relates, “I wanted to express those tangled emotions a person might feel when moving into a new and far away place for the first time—there is, of course, the excitement at striking out on your own, but the loneliness one feels in the beginning can sometimes be overwhelming. Eventually, these emotions may morph into the yearning you feel for the place where you grew up and for loved ones left behind. There are always those somewhat indefinable ties to the place where your heart was first planted and grew. For me, autumn has always signified a time of gathering, of restocking and re-evaluation. It is a time where you often sense a deep impending change about to occur and it only serves to underscore those feelings of nostalgia and appreciation for what you once knew and cherished.”
M elinda grew up in the small town of Marlboro, New Jersey. She wrote poetry and fiction during high school and college, but let her writing fall away for a time. On her return to writing poetry, Melinda says, “I have always loved the sound and texture of language—there is beautiful music in the way words can play in counterpoint and in layered harmony with each other. There is a thrill in weaving words into a poem, which I feel is one of the highest expressions of language.”
Melinda has had good fortune in finding publications for her writing. A few of her recognitions and awards include: The annual “Fields of Earth” poetry competition sponsored by The Writer’s Ink Guild of Fayetteville, NC; the Moore County Writer’s Competition held at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, NC; and first place in the Lyman Haiku competition in 2008. Her writings are on permanent display in the New York Public Library. In 2003, her piece, “Planting Wisteria” was the featured poem of the month on Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone website, “Stories From Home” read by him on his weekly PBS Radio program.
Melinda lives in Aberdeen, North Carolina, with her very patient husband, Alan, and her ever-on-the-go daughter, Seren Adele.



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Spring 2009 -  Heart  #5
John Thomas “J.T.” Milford - Lake Charles, Louisiana

          “I began writing poetry in the 1960's, tuning in and joining with America’s great decade of expression. I continued occasionally writing through the ‘70's, 80's and into the ‘90's. At the end of 1995, I retired from public practice as a CPA and began to take a greater interest in writing. I have no formal training in writing, so I have had to read in order to understand something about writing poetry. I feel that I write in order to express my feelings about events, things, and people I observe in life. I owe Jendi Reiter of Winning Writers (www.winningwriters.com) a great deal for her help and constructive critique.”
On composing his winning poem, J.T. says, “I was looking through a classical CD catalogue and saw a composition by Robin Milford called Fishing by Moonlight. Since we both have the same family name, I ordered the CD. I was very impressed by his music and sad for his early tragic death. He wrote the composition about a painting with the same title by Aert van der Neer. My poem reflects Robin Milford’s music and my own experiences in night fishing. The word chromatic in the poem pays homage to the nature of Robin Milford’s music.”
J.T. was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana on September 1, 1929. He graduated in 1953 from the University Southwestern Louisiana, now known as The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also attended McNeese State University.
His winning poem Fishing by Moonlight (opposite page) and his Honorable Mention A Time for Pears (page 4) are his first to be published.


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HEART POETRY AWARD $500 - Fall 2008   See HEART #4
by Elizabeth Thomas
Columbia, Connecticut
   "I was working in an insurance company (fixing computers) and at 35, decided to take a college poetry class. It completely rocked my world. About 5 years later, I left my secure, well-paying job and began a new life, teaching young people about the power of both written and spoken word. I have never regretted the decision." Elizabeth has authored three poetry collections. She has read her work throughout the United States and has been a member of three Connecticut National Poetry Slam teams. In 1998 she was a member of the U.S. team that traveled to Sweden. As a devoted advocate of the arts and teacher, Elizabeth designs and teaches writing programs for schools and organizations in many parts of the country. These programs promote literacy and the power of the written and spoken word. As an outstanding advocate of youth in the arts, Elizabeth Thomas is a coach and organizer with Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival.
She is also the founder of UpWords Poetry, a company dedicated to promoting programs for young writers and educators, based on the belief that poetry is meant to be heard out loud and in person. She hosts a website at www.upwordspoetry.com.



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Temple Cone was the 2008 winner of HEART POETRY AWARD and appeared in Heart No. 3 View Issues & Writerswhich you may read under "View Issues & Writers" link.  As you can see from this current photo, he has cut off his youthful curls since 2008.  Temple is the author of three books of poetry: That Singing, from March Street Press (2011); The Broken Meadow, which received the 2010 Old Seventy Creek Poetry Press Series Prize; and No Loneliness, which received the 2009 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book Prize.  He has also published six poetry chapbooks. An associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy, he lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

Links to many of his poems are on his website: www.templecone.com


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