Lenten Psalm contest

Psalm-Bird_Structo

Contest logo by Sarah Mushong

For the last couple of years, Structo’s poetry editor Matthew Landrum has run a Lenten Psalm contest over on his blog. This year we’re running it together, and in addition to Matthew’s excellent US$200 first prize, we will be publishing the chosen poem in Structo issue 12 and giving the winning poet a two-year subscription to the magazine.

The idea is that you pick any biblical Psalm and create your own version in English. There’s no wrong way to go about approaching a Psalm, but the end result should be a poem that combines the soul of the original with your own personality as well as poetic and personal vision. Feel free to mangle, tangle, make strange, reverse and experiment. The goal is to make strong poetry, whatever form that takes.

You don’t need to have any knowledge of Hebrew, and no religious affiliation is necessary. This is a chance to engage and wrestle with ancient, beautiful, complex poetry. The 150 poems which make up the Psalms contain some beautiful language and imagery—there’s a reason they’re quoted so much in literature—and this is your chance to make that language your own.

Entries will be judged by panel on originality, musicality, accuracy (to the psalm’s spirit) and aesthetic. Submissions are open from Ash Wednesday to midnight GMT on Easter Sunday, which this year is on April 20th.

Send us your poems using using this link. There is no entry fee.

To give you an idea of the breadth of poetry that’s possible, head below the fold to read last year’s winner, To the Pilot Bridegroom, by Jen Hinst-White.

To the Pilot Bridegroom

     after Psalm 25

At your hangar door I toss me: a paper plane.
Bring me in from the rain—take me ragged, and keep me
     all clear of the suck of the great turbines
Collect me and read me, wee stormied scrap,
     and scrap those still scrapping us windward,
     O God—
Don’t forget. Fold aright, and write New on my wing—
make limp paper sing—here, then, the wait—
but love’s side-lying
Eight guides all your flights. Right? Remind me. Remind me.
Find me kindly. Not back in my writhing, wriggling loose of my binding—
     forgive me, still wild—
God of the Polestar. Pilot Bridegroom. Pied Guider.
He gathers scorched ribbons for the tails of his kites.
If he finds paper squares, he folds cranes for his skies,
and so newsprint shares airspace with stars.

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2 responses to “Lenten Psalm contest

  1. Pingback: Translation Links: David Sedaris on Translation, The Death of Languages, and Translation Opportunities | Two Lines Press

  2. Reblogged this on Chekhov was a doctor: Medicine, health, & creativity and commented:
    I love this idea for a competition and great writing prompt generally…

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