Coming atcha: Poetry on the Move!

I am so proud and excited to announce the winners of the Santa Clara County Poetry on the Move contest. The contest, which ran from mid-December through January 31st, asked Santa Clara County residents to, “Send your best poem, 50 words or less, that in some way relates to the contest theme, ‘Invention,’ poems that celebrate who we are and what we do in Silicon Valley. Write about ‘Invention’ as a subject or a theme, or think of your poem as an invention. In it, capture the spirit of ‘making new’ that shapes our county.”

Over 100 residents answered the call! Through a careful process I curated of first and second readers and a final judge, Jennifer K. Sweeney, author of two books of poetry and the recipient of the 2009 James Laughlin Award, five poems were selected to appear on “car cards” in VTA buses and light rail cars throughout April, National Poetry Month. YES, ride public transit to see their poems overhead AND on free “Take One” fliers. (take one, and pass it on!)

Of her decision judge Sweeney writes, “I felt these five poems best captured the daily human experience and the unique world of the journey–that strange collective life in transit–while simultaneously celebrating the locale in a striking way.  I am excited for the creative offering of this project and for these fine poems which will live in motion shuttling back and forth across the South Bay.”

As am I~Poetry will indeed be MOVING throughout the county. What a fantastic way to celebrate National Poetry Month. AND, I will post Poetry on the Move contest contributor’s poems throughout the month as well, so stay tuned and subscribe, at left, for updates.

And the winners of the Poetry on the Move contest are:

Diana Clarke, Sunnyvale: “Tangents of Invention Early On”
Mark Heinlein, San Jose: “Gravity”
Samantha Lê, San Jose: “From the Platform on First Street”
Dennis Noren, Campbell: “Accelerate”
Danielle Roberts, Santa Clara: “The Inventor”

# # #

Tangents of Invention Early On
by Diana Clarke, Sunnyvale

Seldom is she smooth
as glossy tile,
graceful as windsong,
more jagged, undefined,
a wildflower sprouting
beside a twisty rail.
No spontaneity—
this, too, can be forced
like a bulb out of season.
She longs to soar on a thermion
in a glowing white mist.

# # #

by Mark Heinlein, San Jose

The full moon – golden as December
maple leaves, purity of white
orchids in spring –
possesses enough pull to move oceans,
to maneuver titanic levers of tides.

Down here, we need some heavenly
invention to draw us closer,
body to body, as we move
through the days like the moon.

# # #

From the Platform on First Street
by Samantha Lê, San Jose

a dispassionate rain sprinkles colors
onto glassy morning tracks
faded creatures in shapes of blue and sleeplessness –going

gone the warning whistles of the watchful conductor gone
the smoke that caught the wind
and stained the air

# # #

by Dennis Noren, Campbell

perhaps soon you will span
improbable places
impossibly               spaced
perhaps a gritty clarity
will accelerate from waypoint
to waypoint       perhaps you
will footprint here
to there

# # #

The Inventor
by Danielle Roberts, Santa Clara

You smelled of melted wax and feathers,
and made wings from anything

you could place your palms upon:
typewriter teeth, broken rulers, stained

piano keys, broken helixes of DNA—
grizzled like the steel wool of Einstein’s hair—
scorched from soaring too close to the California sun.

# # #

These poems will begin to appear in public transit as of Monday, April 2. Bravo to these terrific local poets! Bravo to the generous contributions of the  sponsors who made this project MOVE: VTA; the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs; Arts Council Silicon Valley; and my terrific graphic artist Joe Miller who designed these beautiful cards. Please ride public transit and check them out for yourself. And please, let me know what you think. It gets lonely out here.

Note: All are invited to a news conference this coming Friday, April 6, in the News Conference room at County Offices, 70 West Hedding, San Jose, Lower level at 10:30 am.

Sally Ashton
Santa Clara County Poet Laureate



Filed under Laureate's News, On Poetry, Poetry on the Move

6 responses to “Coming atcha: Poetry on the Move!

  1. Kelly Cressio-Moeller

    Congratulations to the 5 winners! What a wonderful to begin your month.

  2. Congratulations, ALL!

    Dennis Noren, my friend, I’m so proud of you!! I’ll be watching out for that bus and will defintely ride it…

    Mark and Danielle, great job! That’s three of you from the Willow Glen readers. Congrats, and Happy Poetry Month!
    Pushpa MacFarlane

  3. Nancy L. Meyer

    wonderful project, Sally. Excellent poems all. Someone who rides the trains do take a picture and post it so we can all see the card and the words in transit. Nancy Meyer

  4. Great to see the wonderful Danielle and Mark in this group!

  5. Vicki

    All five poems are excellent! Congratulations!

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