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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

3rd Prize - Stacey Forbes 'Swerve'

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

Ferris-wheels across

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.

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