Each year's poetry winners seem to coalesce—surely unintentionally—around a theme. The first-, second- and third-place poems all seem brought to us by the number three: the insinuating repetitions of the word "tricolores" in Ricky Garni's first-place "The Waiter Offered To..."; the cutting open of three animals in Matthew Valades' second-placer; and the three kinds of "scapes" envisioned by Alisha Gard in her third-place poem. Only P.J. Gallo broke the pattern with his Honorable Mention effort, "American Repercussion" (although it does evoke three colors—red, white and blue—that bring us back to Garni's poem).
Whimsical connections aside, our three initial reading judges, all busy local poets and Indy contributors, reviewed a strong batch of submissions to deliver a short list of finalists to our grand judge, Chris Tonelli. Readers may notice that there are no Wake County winners this year (although our third-place finisher grew up there), but it's surely not by design, as Tonelli lives and works in Raleigh, where he teaches in the English department of N.C. State.
Congratulations to this year's winners. All of the winners as well as three of the judges will read from their work Tuesday, April 19, 6-8 p.m. at Nightlight in Chapel Hill. Admission is free and we'll provide snacks. Join us! (See the Facebook event.) —David Fellerath