2021 Poetry Contest Results

Common Ground Review would like to thank everyone who entered the contest this year.  We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2021 Annual Poetry Contest, chosen by our judge, Simeon Berry:

First Prize, $500

Connor Drexler, “Alone Another Vacation”

Simeon Berry writes: “Alone Another Vacation” is an anti-pastoral that lights up the countryside in an apocalyptic negative while the speaker wrestles necromantically with entropy and exegesis.  Acknowledging both the gyre of Robinson Jeffers’ savage inhumanism and the bleak susurrus of cosmic indifference, Connor Drexler searches unflinchingly for the antidote inside the traumatic cloud of unknowing that is masculinity.  This is a poem that is both surgical and gracefully suggestive as the capillary action of ink in a charcoal wash.

Second Prize, $200

Scott Ruescher, “Plumbing”

“Plumbing” is skillfully held aloft with elegant syncopation on the zephyr of a single sentence, borrowing from the harmony of a sonnet’s interlaced lines without importing any of its claustrophobia. Ruescher manages the difficult trick of stirring up the dark sediment of Blake’s Satanic mills and the depredations of catastrophic economies while maintaining the placid surface of his rhetorical argument, demonstrating all the contradictory ways that privilege is encoded in our circumstances and our art.

Third Place, $100

Charles Gillispie, “As Close as Anyone Gets”

“As Close as Anyone Gets” is a slant memento mori, a snapshot of a wilderness of grief superimposed on the crystalline cordial of a dinner party. In just three deceptively-simple stanzas, Gillispie advances his aural argument using the hinge of punctuation—first ellipses, then dash, then question mark—to maintain the tension between comfort and anxiety. This deft doubling reminds us that grief makes the world both uncertain and simultaneous, a confusion of chronology and essence that keeps us painfully alert, even when we would prefer the consolation of the anesthetic.

Honorable Mentions:

Zebulon Huset, “The Mathematics Are Indisputable”

Sandra Fees, “Self-Portrait as Flame”

Michael Buebe, “JigSaw 32”

Congratulations to all the winners!  Their poems will appear shortly in our first on-line issue.  We would like to accept a few of the other poems for our second on-line issue, and will be contacting everyone soon with more information on that.


Poetry Contest 2021

 $500 First ◊ $200 Second ◊ $100 Third Prizes

and publication in Common Ground Review

Judge: Simeon Berry

 Contest Submission Guidelines

Please send 1-3 poems

  • each under 61 lines
  • well-crafted
  • previously unpublished
  • no simultaneous submissions
  • There is a $15 fee

To https://cgreview.org/submissions-guidelines

(Honorable Mentions will be published)

 Deadline is MARCH 31, 2021 



2018 Poetry Contest Judge Amy Dryansky

amy_dryansky--2Amy Dryansky, ready to read your poems!

Amy Dryansky’s second book, Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), received the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award for poetry. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, won the New England/New York Award from Alice James. Her work is included in several anthologies and individual poems appear in a variety of journals, including Barrow Street, Harvard Review, New England Review, Memorious, Orion and The Women’s Review of Books.

She’s received honors/awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She was also an Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, where she looked at the impact of motherhood on women poets. Dryansky is currently the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA, and assistant director of the Culture, Brain & Development Program at Hampshire College.