Waldoboro poet, Camden Hills student big winners in VillageSoup poetry contest

Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Winners have been selected in the VillageSoup Community Poetry Contest. Pictured from left are Paul McFarland of Lincolnville; Pearl Benjamin of Camden; Courier-Gazette Publisher Bryan Gess; and Karyn Lie-Nielsen of Waldoboro.

Rockland — The people and the judges have spoken and the winners have been selected out of a pool of 22 local poets who submitted pieces to The VillageSoup Community Poetry Contest.

Karyn Lie-Nielsen of Waldoboro won in the adult category for her poem, "I come from gardens." (The winning poems are published below.

Pearl Benjamin, a 15-year-old Camden Hills Regional High School student from Camden is the winner in the youth category for her poem, "The Lake."

The second place adult award went to Jonathan Tauer for his poem, "Spruce Head, Maine," and third place went to Paul McFarland of Lincolnville for his poem, "The Leonids."

The judges in the competition also awarded three honorable mentions: Ina Doban of Camden for "Geography of the Man at the Cash Register"; Phyllis Janto of Washington for "Sisters"; and Catherine Dowdell of Rockland for "Pause."

VillageSoup held the contest as media sponsor for the Millay Arts & Poetry Festival, which was held in September in Rockland. Readers were invited to vote via mail or online for their favorite poems. The five poems with the most votes went to our panel of judges: Rockland Poet Laureate Joanna Hynd; Michelle Gifford of Millay House Rockland; and Rockland Public Library Reference Technician Jessica Blanchard.

The first prize for each category was a new Kindle Fire. Second and third-place winners each receive free subscriptions. All of the winners and honorable mentions receive award certificates.

"I'm especially delighted with this award because I've been a dedicated admirer of Edna St. Vincent Millay all my life," Lie-Nielsen said. "It's wonderful to have one of my poems recognized in connection to the Rockland event in her name."

The Waldoboro resident divides her time between writing and gardening. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Poetry East, Maine Magazine, Goose River Anthology and Wordgatherings.com. In 2013, she was awarded the prize for Short Works in Poetry in the Maine Literary Contest, sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Association. She also has a chapbook entitled, "Handbuzz and Other Voices," which won the Damfino Press Afternoonified Chapbook Contest in 2015. The poems in that collection center around her experiences growing up with deaf parents.

Pearl Benjamin is the daughter of Karin Leuthy and Mark Benjamin. In her spare time, she raises a flock of seven sheep in Rockport.

She plans to pursue a career in writing and agriculture when she gets out of school.

Her poem is about one of the area's most well-known lakes.

“I was able to see Megunticook Lake in the summer in the first few years of my life, but when I moved to Maine (four years ago), I was able to see it through all its seasons, and I realized it was equally beautiful in all seasons,” she said.

The two top poems appear below. To view all of the submissions with the names of the poets, visit: knox.villagesoup.com/p/villagesoup-community-poetry-contest-entries/1682014.


I Come from Gardens

By Karyn Lie-Nielsen


Like a seed from the dark earth

I come already knowing the language:

Germinate, propagate, blossom, harvest.

Taste the soil. Face the sun.

I come from gardens.


I come from garden remedies and garden rumors.

Where dragons snap, spiders flower, foxes glove,

and love lies bleeding.

There are balms, sages, loosestrife.

Infants under cabbage leaves.

I come from storied gardens.


I come with instruments and tools.

Strings, sticks, arbors, painted trellises.

Implements that dig, cut, level and train.

I clean beds, nourish, and blanket.

I come from caring gardens.


I come from garden weeds, spies, and thieves.

Children stolen in the night.

Broken promises, betrayals.

Illness and blight.

I come from damaged gardens.


I come from the dogwood at the edge of my grandmother’s garden,

root-torn and withered in a pile of debris.

The one she cradled within her apron

weeping to the neighbor about property lines.

I come from grieving gardens.


I come from hard rain that punishes, soft mist that comforts.

I come from dry spells when every day begins

with the same parched hope.


I come from dreams and deaths in gardens.

Like a seed planted in the dark earth,

I come to grow.


The Lake

By Pearl Benjamin


The first time we met, you were quiet,

like a leaf falling from a tree.

Just beginning to thaw off the icy claws

that seized you when it was cold.


The second time, you were alive,

frothing with life:

The emerald trout,

the hard-working beaver,

the persistent bluejay.


The third time I saw you,

you seemed to be curling up in a nest,

like the animals that fed from you.

You covered yourself in a blanket of golden leaves

and began your long nap.


The last time I laid my eyes on you,

you had been frozen in time,

gone to sleep,

waiting for the ice to let go of its frosty grip.


But it will. The ice will thaw.

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Dan Dunkle
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.

Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.


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