Terrain.org 5th Annual Contest Winners

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Congratulations to the following winners and finalists of the Terrain.org 5th Annual Contests in Nonfiction and Poetry! The winners and finalists will publish in November.



“The Library of Ice” by Nancy Campbell
Winner, selected by Julian Hoffman

Nancy Campbell
Nancy Campbell.
Photo by Mark Walton.

Julian writes…

As autumn fell in a blaze of leaves across the valley where I live, I was transported elsewhere by “The Library of Ice,” not only to the fragile reservoirs of cold and snow at the poles of our planet, but also deep into its past, to a time “beyond human memory.” This beautiful, contemplative essay turns the pages of the world backwards, like the layers of polar ice studied by scientists that store the myriad particulars of the earth’s historical climate. Its evocative images lingered with me through days of unseasonably warm winds: ancient time sealed in a cylinder of ice; the pale ghost of a dandelion head locked inside a glass paperweight; snowflakes melting on Johannes Kepler’s coat as he seeks to save them. As seasons shift, our climate alters, and “the polar ice is the first archive” of our world, compressed and preserved like dried flowers inside books. “The Library of Ice” is a graceful celebration of the ephemeral, while gently reminding us that our actions today will remain with us forever.

“Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, and Zinc” by Chauna Craig



“The Underworld is Alive” and “‘Emerging View'” by Anne Haven McDonnell
Winner, selected by Derek Sheffield

Anne Haven McDonnell
Anne Haven McDonnell.
Photo by Jennifer Moller

Derek writes…

It is difficult to write well about the kind of loss associated with climate change, yet that is exactly what this poet has done. Instead of allowing didacticism to throttle lyricism, these poems speak with an authenticity and authority that comes from deft mingling of fact and the imaginative act. Grim irony and paradox riddle a sonic richness and the reality of the daily beauties of a world where “Still / an old woman can rest.” These poems are compelling and true to the wrenching complexity of our greatest challenge. Wilfred Owen was thinking of another kind of war when he wrote, “All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.” These poems call his words to mind, for nowadays
         mountains rise
like the grieving that rolls
into this strange season,
wheeling towards us, nameless
on our animal tongues.

“Northern Cardinal”, “fly, drive, walk, stand, swim, flow”, “On the Field”, and “ECLATTER” by Ros Zimmermann

“Distribution and Migration of North American Gulls” and “Mon Père, Mon Frère” by Martha Silano

Five Ghazals from a Provincetown Dune Shack: “Small and Simple”, “Not There Yet”, “Stand Still”, “Hanging by a Thread”, “You Start with Me” by Janet MacFadyen

From Skin Tent: On Returning to India: “fresh market (I)”, “Floating Temple”, and “Clean” by Nadia Chaney


Landscape photo of ice cave by Dean Pennala, courtesy Shutterstock.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.