Steve Tomasko of Middleton, Wisconsin, is the recipient of the 2017 Norbert Blei Poetry Award, administered by Write On, Door County. Judge Alice D’Alessio selected Tomasko’s poem “That sure was a close and holy time,” (scroll down for poem) from among 37 entries. The award includes a prize of $250 and complimentary registration to the Washington Island Literary Festival. The Festival is held September 22 through 24 at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center on Washington Island. Tomasko will read his poem Saturday evening, along with Door County Poet Laureate Sharon Auberle and Wisconsin Poet Laureate Karla Huston.
Honorable mentions in this year’s award went to Shoshauna Shy of Madison for her poem “This is You in the Sundance Catalog,” Mike Orlock of Sturgeon Bay for his poem “Origin Stories,” and Liz Hoffman of Sturgeon Bay for her poem “ As it should be.”
Steve Tomasko states that he “likes pondering the small and forgotten – the dust mites that live under the couch and the eyebrow mites that live on us; the 5,000 species of bacteria in our mouths.” He has published his writing in various journals and his first chapbook of poems, and no spiders were harmed, came out in 2015.
Judge Alice D’Alessio retired from corporate and non-profit communications positions to focus on writing poetry and non-fiction, and has published five books. She was co-editor of the book, The Professor’s Room, a tribute to Norbert Blei. Her latest book of poetry is Walking the Tracks, published by Fireweed Press in October 2016.
The award honors the late renowned Door County author Norbert Blei and is administered by Write On in collaboration with the Washington Island Literary Festival. The theme of this year’s Washington Island Literary Festival is “Exploring Frontiers: Both Real and Imagined.” Authors for this year’s festival include nonfiction writers Dan Egan, David MacLean and Kao Kalia Yang, novelists Rachel DeWoskin and Amy Hassinger, and poets Sharon Auberle and Karla Huston.
That sure was a close and holy time
for a bunch of atheists, you said, soon after Mom died.
There were stories. There was silence. There was Mom’s last
joke. We played Peter, Paul and Mary at her bedside,
John Lennon, Imagine. A year and a half later we scattered
our parents’ ashes in a high Colorado meadow.
Light and water, think air, two hemlocks growing
out of a stump and a little June snow where my brother
spelled out Mom and Dad with their dust.
We had no grand plans. We found places by whim.
Later, we hiked up to a waterfall, cast more
of their elements into the river. And you pointed out a rock
with a face you said looked like Mom.
And it did. Maybe a benediction. Or, another of her jokes.
Rambling down we played like kids. Threw sticks
into the torrent, watched them tumble and disappear
in the turbulent, animate water. I stopped,
turned back, Douglas-fir and aspen framed the waterfall,
sun splintered through branches and leaves, incandescing the mist,
saw the world, broken and wholly there.