things happen when you least expect them. I was recently named one
of 7 first-place winners in the co-sponsored Poetry Society of
American and Olay Fine Lines Poetry Contest for women! The seven
judges were Julia Alvarez, Jill Bialosky, Lee Ann Brown, Marilyn
Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Sonia Sanchez, and Sapphire.
each received $2,000 and an all expense-paid trip to New York for
readings at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School and dinner at
the Soho Grand Hotel.
Incredibly, I was almost disqualified
because the contest administrator D. L. Blair, Inc., could not
find me. I had sent my submission 8 months ago and moved during
Christmas holidays. The Fed-Ex package sent March 19 was
misdelivered. On March 30, vacationing in St. Augustine, FL, I
received an email from Blair saying that they had not heard from
me and, because the prize was so large, were giving me a second
chance to respond. Whew! A new Fed-Ex with affidavits to sign and
have witnessed was over-nighted to St. Augustine and I
over-nighted them back the next day. I must admit, given that the
package was due to arrive on April Fools' Day, I was a bit
The awards event in New York April 20 was
memorable. Five of the 7 winners (Jendi Reiter, Anna Panszczyk,
Simone Muench, Patricia Clark and myself) and five of the 7 judges
(Bialosky, Brown, Chin, Sanchez, and Sapphire) were able to
attend. We were treated royally--put up at the Soho Grand,
chaufeurred about in private limos, photographed, gifted with Olay
Total Effects products, and lusciously fed.
Public Relations firm in NYC, which manages the Olay account,
coordinated festivities, and their young, talented, and energetic
staff members were fun and professional and did a beautiful job.
We arrived at the Tishman Autditorium an hour early for photos and
to chat with the judges, DeVries staff, Olay General Manager
Michael Kuremsky, and Alice Quinn, Poetry Editor for The
and Executive Director of PSA. Quinn joked about having just had
makeup applied for the event.
Quinn also did part of the
screening, reading hundreds of poems. The contest garnered 22,000
entries. About 8,000 were rejected at the outset for various
reasons: author too young, line length exceeded, no zip code
provided, etc. Remaining 14,000 were read by members of PSA. The
final round of 200 poems went to the 7 judges.
will become part of PSA's Poetry in Motion program begun in 1992
in New York City. The program, which places poems in subways and
buses, is now in some 20 US cities. That's a nice thought, a
worthy afterlife for my poem, transiting an urban
Poems can be read on Olay's website
and will soon be announced on the PSA website
along with the destination cities.
Entering the Tishman
foyer, we saw our poems mounted on stands spaced before the doors
into the autditorium. The stage had been "Olayed":
shimmery gold drapes, the Olay logo on a long banner and also
projected in lights on side walls, a huge vase of giant arum
lilies, and spaced along the rim of the stage like floodlights
small silver vases of white hydrangeas.
photographer took many group shots onstage. Kuremsky briefly
described Olay's incentive for sponsoring the contest. Quinn gave
the introduction and the judges read the winning poems and their
own poetry, all, I must say, dramatic and dynamic. Chin had her
entire reading memorized, Brown sang parts of one poem, and
Given that it was National Poetry Month
and scads of poetry events happening in the city, there was a good
audience. A reception outside the auditorium followed the
readings, and I got to talk with several audience members. There
was wine, hors d'oeurves, and a PSA book sale.
people attended the dinner at the Soho Grand--Olay and DeVries
staff, judges, winners, and guests. The private dining room had 3
tables decorated with the same white hydrangeas. Menu include a
white salad (endive, goat cheese and walnuts), entree of either
pan seared salmon w/braised cabbage and onions or roasted chicken
with mushroom ravioli, and for dessert vanilla creme brulee with
raspberries accompanied by coffee and trays of cookies and
The evening ended just before midnight, before
the glass slippers disappeared and the pumpkin bumped along the
curb at 310 West Broadway.