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The Susan Laughter Meyers Summer Scholarship


Debra Conner

Honorable Mentions:

Christina Baumis

Judge’s Comments:

These poems are unlike the poems of Susan Laughter Meyers’. Susan had a very wide perspective on poetry, and I can feel her interest. “These were fun to read. Literary archeology of the Jazz Age.” she might have said. “It’s a daring approach in poetry.”

The daring part of this is that the five poem selection alternates in voce between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald over the course of 25 years, from 1910 until 1935. I ask: Could this dialog be maintained for an entire collection?” Fortunately, Susan’s words echoed, “We’re not judging a collection. Just a five-poem series.”

I knew the rules and I knew how to break them, said Zelda Sayre.

Makes me wonder whether this dialog could maintain its tension throughout an entire collection.

The poet knows the rules and knows how to break them.

“Let’s think only of today and not worry about tomorrow,” Zelda Sayre.

While Zelda focuses on her outlandish partying lifestyle, F. Scott who is on the eve of his first big book contract and, as a member of Ernest Hemingway’s entourage, envying Hemingway who was “always the hero, he wows the crowd at Stein’s salon. / He’s landed a three book deal./ …as he grins and orders another bottle. / I’m about to be buried alive.”

And those bottles turn up ten years later as a metaphor for his deep regrets, as his own life begins to break apart and Zelda is in an asylum for her undiagnosed bipolar disorder. In the final poem of this series as “these empty brown bottles lined in rows” should be shattered and buried.

And in this five-poem contest, the dialog between F. Scott and Zelda works very well, indeed.

I am happy to select this submission as the winner of this year’s Susan Laughter Meyers award.

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