Poetry editor Skye Jackson names the winners of the first French Quarter Journal poetry contest and introduces their compelling entries.
Dear French Quarter Journal Readers,
I hope that this letter finds you well and enjoying the fruits that only summer can bring – sunny weather, good food and fun times. I’m talking about the kind of fun that sticks to your soul and makes memories we’re always quick to return to in the nostalgic recesses of our minds.
Today as I wandered up and down Magazine Street, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite gifts of summer: possibility. This idea that your life can change at any moment – whether that be meeting a new friend, getting a new opportunity or even simply walking down a street you’ve never been down before. I pray that possibility, ingenuity and creativity are finding you wherever you are.
Speaking of which, I want to thank all the wonderful writers and poets who entered our first poetry contest! One of the highlights of my summer has been reading the work of all those who submitted. I appreciated getting to know you each on the page and seeing the exciting ways that our city has changed you. Thank you for trusting us with your words. Your care and love for New Orleans reflected strongly in each poem I read. For that, I am truly grateful.
I’d like to congratulate our winners!
First Place ($100): Nikki Ummel, "Saturday Morning on St. Claude Avenue"
Second Place ($50): Kelsey Stancliffe, "Amtrak"
Third Place ($25): William Butler, "Iggy's on the Corner"
Your poems, published below, reminded me of all the things I am drawn to about New Orleans. Each poem used place and perspective in fresh and exciting ways. At times, I found myself wishing I could physically leap into your work. Thank you for allowing me to be so present in your poetry. I absolutely loved the journey.
To our finalists: Daniel Lee ("Playoffs"), Nikki Ummel ("An Aubade for the Sous Chef at Cochon"), and Shelly Rodrigue ("Whiskey Canal"): your work was amazing. I agonized over all your poems because they were so good. Thank you for sharing them with us.
To our faithful readers and poets, I just want to let you all know that we’ll be holding another poetry contest this upcoming fall. Please stay tuned for rules and requirements for the next round if you’re interested in entering. I look forward to reading more of your work, so please send it in!
Once again, thank you for your readership, kindness, and support during these maddening times. Stay safe and well. Please take care of each other.
Until we meet again in the streets…
First Place - Saturday Morning on St. Claude Avenue by Nikki Ummel