Double congratulations to American poet Stacey Forbes for not only winning 3rd prize in the competition for poem 'Swerve', but also being awarded a highly commended position for her poem 'Divining the Pipes' (read in the upcoming highly commended section : ). All entries were read by the judge anonymously, so it is an amazing achievement to have not one but two poems selected. See below to read Stacey's winning poem (for correct formatting please view on desktop.)
night driving / bright yellow spider
the delicate web
of shadows on my face
a woman’s body has
so many wires to walk
and all we have to catch us
is a windshield
the spider is on the outside
of the glass / but I
don’t know this
not at first / and not for sure
one thing is certain:
my crazy has eight legs and walks sideways
like this: fear of
abandonment // believing // disappearing
disbelieving // losing a limb (this time it’s my father)
losing my mind // swallowing a spider // swerving
these are not (absolutely) in order
I read somewhere that every person eats eight
live spiders in their sleep / before they die
later I read this was only a myth, easy
to prove / untrue / but it’s too late for me
I cannot sleep a wink without at least one spider
tilt-a-whirling on the naked place above my heart
I called my brother once
after a breakup and told him
I was cursed with the family
fear of being alone
I thought the family fear
was spiders, he said / he is
so much like my mother
who came to me last night
in a dream wearing her fine
bones on the outside
even if you haven’t slept
in weeks, she says
remember your manners:
always cover your mouth
when you scream
All Rights. Stacey Forbes.
Tell us a bit about yourself and writing history...
Stacey Forbes’ poem “Speaking of trees” won first place in the 2021 Plough Poetry Prize. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Mono, Carve, Split Rock Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Blue Mountain Review, and Barren. Born in the white birch woods of Pennsylvania, Stacey has been reading and writing poetry since the third grade. She now lives in Tucson, Arizona. Why did you enter you enter this particular competition?
I entered this competition for three reasons. Firstly - MONO. is a gorgeous, thought-provoking publication that shows readers the physical world and the world of poetry through a different lens. To see my work on its pages is an honor. Secondly, Joelle is a force of nature. Just knowing that she was reading my work was fuel for the fire that keeps me writing! Crystal Kisses knocked me flat, and I will stay down until I find a way to strike a chord that means as much as that poem does. And thirdly, I loved that the competition challenged poets to push the boundaries of form and style to show how poetry can shape-shift and become something entirely new. BRAVA for pushing poetry to the next level! What inspires you?
The unassailable power of language inspires me. Few things in this world still connect people from all walks of life, people with wildly different life experiences and worldviews, the way poetry does. Poetry transcends age, gender, race, politics and faith and strikes at the bones of humanity we all share undeniably in common. The beauty and tragedy of the human condition cannot be uttered often or honestly enough - but we have to try. Who is your favourite poet and why?
This is really tough! There are so many truly extraordinary poets out there. One of my current favorites is Ross Gay. Ross uses the simplest language to paint the most profound pictures of life in this world as it is - and as it should be. Ross Gay makes me fall in love with nature and with people all over again. His permeating theme of gratitude is both humbling and emboldening. Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude should be required reading for everyone with a soul, poet or not.
Many congrats Stacey, we are thrilled to publish both of your poems and wish you every success with your writing career.