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Herald writers’ poems nominated for Pushcart Prizes

Two writers for the Herald have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, highlighting the best work of small presses.

Connie Wrzesniewski’s poem “Full Moon on a November Night in the Woods of Hickory Run” has been nominated by the publisher of Pushcart Press.

Melinda Rizzo’s poem “Ravens” has also been nominated. And her book, “Late Snow and Hellebore,” has been selected as an entry into the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Award DiVinci Eye competition for cover design.

“I’m thrilled beyond measure,” Rizzo said. “A Pushcart Prize nomination for “Ravens” and now cover recognition.”

“My first writing prize was in the second grade at Stoy Elementary School in Haddon Township, N.J. The essay was about a robin’s next filled with a clutch of eggs, nested in a fire thorn bush at the front of the house,” Rizzo said. “The essay explored the nest and eggs, as I checked them each day, as well as the hatchlings and Mother Bird’s constant caring for her babies.”

Rizzo has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. Inspiration comes from the natural world, sometimes news stories.
She has been a runner up several times in the annual Bucks County Poet Laureate Contest, and has had had single poem published in various publications, including Philomel a publication of The University of Pennsylvania, The Bucks County Writer, Petosky Stone Press.

Wrzesniewski has been writing poetry about 20 years – she has been actively submitting to journals for 15 or more.

Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia’s Bridesburg section, she attended Gwynedd Mercy University after raising her family. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2002 and has written for the Herald since then. She was editor of the Gwynmercian (Gwynedd newspaper) under Dr. Carol Breslin.

“I love writing for the Herald and always will,” Wrzesniewski said. “I have had two books published by Finishing Line Press, “Watching Over My Shoulder” and “As I Was Saying,” which features poems about growing up in Philadelphia. She recently attended a master class in poetry at Bucks County Community College headed by Dr. Chris Bursk.

The Pushcart Prize series has been highlighting the best work of small presses for more than 40 years. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 1960s and 70s.

Full Moon on a November Night
in the woods of Hickory Run

Connie Wrzesniewski

There’s frost on the moon.
The night is silvered.
Even the stars shiver,
wrapped in shawls of fog.
How eerie the mist.

A feathering of ice crystals
clings to shagbark leaves
that crunch as I plod
deeper into the stand
of once-friendly oaks.

The red fox chills my bones
with his raspy bark. A crack
of branch splits the night. A
buck leaps across the path,
heightens my fright. The
snowy owl hoots into the
sleepless wind that rustles
through pines at the edge
of the wood. Gleaming topaz
eyes pierce the tarry shadows.

The grey wolf stands erect,
framed by soft sway of evergreen.
He inclines his head towards the moon.
In scooping arcs, he howls his rapacious
reply into the chiaroscuro before him.

Melinda Rizzo

I push everything I know off to the side.
For a moment I watch these two predators,
fiddling and flapping, bracing on thick branches;
letting go

in the stiffening foliage of my ash tree.
It’s November. They are black as Syrian oil.
I listen to their dialog. Caw resonates deep in the gullet.

Like the ruffle of shuffling playing cards, it starts slow,
punctuated by the final fan-slap as the last card folds
the deck, next quiet roulette of dealer’s hands.

I imagine what they might’ve said: Passion,
a bargain? Scolding or rolled eyes over chores,
divvying seed? Who was wrong … who was right?

Caw is the end of a sentence.
I do not speak Bird, but in this aging moment,
I wish I did.

One to the other over the fussing
and how significant or not,
it would all mean in the end.

I wonder if I could learn
Raven, a dialect of Bird, one of thousands,
perhaps, tens or hundreds of thousands.

No. Millions. And if I could begin – even just begin; nothing
more for now.
To understand … what new worlds?