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Traveling through a small town inspired poetry contest winner

Poet's Seat Poetry Contest adult winner Cathy Gouch of Greenfield won with her poem, "Contemplating Field, Driving through Gilbert, Arizona." Recorder/Trish Crapo

Poet's Seat Poetry Contest adult winner Cathy Gouch of Greenfield won with her poem, "Contemplating Field, Driving through Gilbert, Arizona." Recorder/Trish Crapo

GREENFIELD — A poem about a drive through Gilbert, Ariz., a mother rubbing her daughter’s back until she falls asleep, and fungi took top honors at the 22nd annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest on Tuesday night.

“I’m filled with complete humbleness,” said Cathy Gouch of Greenfield, who took home a stoneware platter and the handmade wooden Poet’s Seat she will keep in her home for the next year.

All of that for writing “Contemplating Field, Driving Through Gilbert, Arizona.”

“I’m going to keep writing poetry,” said Gouch. “I hope I’ll be here again next year.”

Gouch said this was the first year she had entered the contest.

“Out of the three poems I submitted, I never dreamed the short, little one I started in the 1970s, and changed a bit for this contest, would win.”

She won first place in the adult category for writing, “The cotton are sheep in bare, small trees. A forest, where lovers can’t lie down golden against this caravan of heat. Yet bored crop-dusters imagine naked backs rising skyward.”

“I was living in Arizona in the 1970s,” she explained before she read her winning poem early in the evening.

She said she was driving from one small town to a smaller town one day, when she passed fields, farms, sheep and vast fields of cotton. She said she saw a crop-duster and wondered what he might be thinking while performing such a boring task.

Lynnette Baker Varnon won second place with her poem, “I Rub Her Back in Circles Until She Falls Asleep,” and Christine Grecsek won third place for “Mycology.”

In the 12-to-14-year-old category, Aniella Day of Deerfield and Robin Williams of South Deerfield took top honors, while Jiyoung Jeong of Deerfield and Melissa Leary of Northfield took the same in the 15-to-18-year-old category.

Jeong, who wrote “Simple Telling,” which is about her community service trip to the Dominican Republic and the young boy, with the huge smile, who stole her heart.

“A little boy in a stained, oversized shirt, tugs on my white sleeve to color a rainbow — again,” her poem begins.

“I was a finalist last year,” said the Bement ninth-grader. “I didn’t have any hopes for this year. I just wrote the poem after I returned from the Dominican Republic and I can’t believe this — it’s great.”

About 60 people, including the poets who competed, their friends and family, and the judges, attended the reading and awards ceremony, which was held at Stoneleigh-Burnham School on Bernardston Road.

Kay Lyons, children’s librarian at Greenfield Public Library, was master of ceremonies.

“We are very thankful for this gathering,” she said. “We’ll be inspired tonight by poetry, youth and springtime.”

Cindy Snow, one of the contest’s coordinators, said more than 100 poems were submitted in the adult category, and about 80 were submitted between the two youth categories.

Hope Schneider, the other contest coordinator, handed out certificates of appreciation to each contestant and Redware pottery to winners.

Friends of the Greenfield Public Library sponsored the event, at which each poet took his or her place at the podium, reading their poems before winners were announced.

A plaque with Gouch’s name has been placed on the back of the chair with the 21 poets who came before her.

“I’m so excited,” said Gouch.

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