The Emily Dickinson competition awakened an enthusiastic and voluminous response—no surprise, given her deserved popularity. But what did surprise me was the high quality of the submissions. Dickinson is easy to caricature but notoriously difficult to imitate well. Kudos to the contestants who took Dickinson’s fragment—“Soft as the massacre of Suns / By Evening’s Sabres slain”—and supplied the rest of the poem.
First prize goes to Jennifer Clarvoe (pictured left) for her ingenious extension of the simile. Her lines offer complexity, a satisfying sound pattern ending with two full rhymes, and the sense that she has appropriated Dickinson for her own poetic agenda, which is disclosed to us in its entirety only with the last word of her poem.
And next Tuesday a new competition commences. . .