Poem contest winner channels family illness

  • Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest winner Cindy Snow. RECORDER STAFF/JOSHUA SOLOMON

  • Some of this year's 26th annual Poet's Seat Poetry Contest winners. Recorder Staff / Joshua Solomon—Recorder Staff / Joshua Solomon

  • Some of this year's "young finalists" from the 26th annual Poet's Seat Poetry Contest. Recorder Staff / Joshua Solomon—Recorder Staff / Joshua Solomon

Recorder Staff
Thursday, April 27, 2017

GREENFIELD — Cindy Snow had been coordinating the Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest for 10 years before she felt comfortable enough to step aside from organizing and submit her own entry.

When she did, the published poet with a Master of Fine Arts in poetry, channeled Leonard Cohen, her senior dance classes and her father, who now has early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I have tucked in my father, closed / the latch on his bedroom door, / turned on the intercom, in case / he wakes. I have folded back / page one of today’s newspaper/ — another man, another shooting. / I have said yes to my mother. I will / visit on Sunday,” Snow’s poem “For Leonard” reads.

After being named the adult category winner of the 26th annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest at the Stoneleigh Burnham School Thursday night, Snow reflected on how her father’s fight with Alzheimer’s disease motivated her to join a senior dance company: it’s not too late to try something new and it’s important to stay active and healthy.

As for the Leonard Cohen inspiration, her dance company did a number to his famous song “Hallelujah.” She was inspired to write a poem about her experience and relationship with the dance class and her father. She knew it was a special poem, but didn’t realize she would win the contest, which conducts a blind-judging process.

“I’m just blown away,” Snow said. “There were so many great poems. I feel very firmly that once someone is in the top 10 that everyone is a winner. I feel incredibly lucky but in great company with the finalist.”

The runner up in the adult category was Colleen T. Filler with her poem “Still Life.” Coming in third place was Harold Graves with his poem “Stopping The Car Late At Night to Pee in the Snow.” All poems read by the night’s finalists were broadcasted on GCTV.

This year there were about 200 entries with the number of entries nearly split between adults and youth.

In the young finalists categories, there were two winners from the two divisions: 12 to 14-year-olds and 15 to 18-year-olds.

Fiona Bird with her poem “Where I’m from” and Charlotte Roberts with her poem “Musings” won in the younger category.

In the older category, Heidi Kmetz won with her poem “Home” in addition to Brie Smith with her poem “The happy fisherman.”

While some of the poems addressed topics of love and personal relationships and others addressed nature, some questioned the world around us, touching on the current political climate.

“I register my car, get my driver’s license, and register to vote / Would this happen if I was from Iran, Nigeria or Guatemala and not from Wisconsin? / Does Massachusetts care that I am here?” Trace Hentz wrote in her adult finalist poem “: self.migration :”

Children’s Librarian of Greenfield Public Library Kay Lyons, who led the event, said she felt this year in particular felt overtly political.

“I think that has a lot to do with the present political climate and the fear people feel,” Lyons said. “It’s good to give voice to it.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:


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