Heart Poetry Award $500 & Publication HEART 16, Winter 2021
Ginny has loved poetry since childhood. She belongs to a writing group that has met twice monthly for about twenty years. She believes poetry is a powerful language and when written with honesty and heart, creates a unique connection between strangers. Her winning poem was written shortly after taking a long walk through a wooded area with her daughter and says even in such a secluded area, political craziness and pandemic anxieties followed them. She is a retired English teacher and has published several poetry collections, including Toward the Hanging Tree: Poems of Salem Village (Antrim House, 2017), as well as The Unparalleled Beauty of a Crooked Line and Barbarians in the Kitchen. Her chapbook, Under the Porch, won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and her newest collection to be published, Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to Mohawk Kahnawake, has just been released by Turning Point. Other awards include: Atlanta Review’s Grand Prize, the Founders Award, National Federation of State Poetry Society and winner of Passager’s annual Poetry Contest. Ginny has an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is Poet Laureate Emeritus of her hometown, West Hartford, Connecticut. She is owner and publisher of Grayson Books, has served on the board of the Connecticut Poetry Society and as contributing editor for the journal Connecticut River. ♥
The Woods in November of a Difficult Year We walk through an hour of late autumn light on a wooded path, my grown daughter and I, through leaf mold and shadow. Heavy twists of vine, thick as ropes wrap trees to the point of strangulation. Tumbled boulders edge the trail. It’s a bleak season: illness sweeps through the world, cutting down millions and there’s family we haven’t seen in months. We wonder at a gnarl of barbed wire embedded in the remnants of an old stump, piercing the heart of splintered wood. November’s song is the dry rasp of leaves, kinder than the voices we leave behind that shout grievous lies from high offices. My daughter’s voice is subdued. I used to believe in something I called America, she says, plucking a thorn from her sleeve. Our talk, then, shifts closer to home and we reflect on betrayals that have split our own family. We’re not immune from the falling away. A woodpecker keeps knocking but we fail to see a single bird, just trees many of them fallen, others barely upright, rough bark loosening, insect holes cratering trunks. The land is November-sere, everything waiting, it seems for some final catastrophe or revelation. Tangles of bittersweet clutter the woods and November smells like loneliness but we have this quiet hour together. We celebrate a tiny tree, thin blessing sprouting from a rotting stump.