By a margin of 2.1 decibels on the official Amherst Live decibelometer, the 350-seat audience at the Winter 2014 show awarded Lynne Francis the inaugural Amherst Live Poetry Prize, for her poem, “Pomegranate Tart,” recited by Floyd Cheung. Beth Filson came in a close second with her poem, “Creation Story,” recited by Katherine Glatter. Congratulations to both poets for their incredible work, and to their reciters for moving presentations.

Beth and Lynne’s poems were selected with great difficulty. The talent and passion on display among the many submissions we received was staggering. Among these, we’d like to acknowledge five runners-up: 

Emily Bloch (Shutesbury)
Dan Chelotti (Easthampton)
Carol Connare (Amherst)
Daniel Hales (Greenfield)
Jonathan Tucker (Florence)

by Lynne Francis

Our daughter has come on the train
from New York with a pomegranate tart
in her lap.  She bursts into the kitchen bearing
it up – a crown of snowy ermine ringed
in garnet jewels.  Her hands, still stained a startling, irridescent pink
from shimmying seeds out of pale catacombs, peek out
from last year’s coat sleeves.

She lays the beautiful thing on the counter with relief
and before we kiss hello, we coo
over its stunning architecture, the surreal look of perfect
ruby seeds pressed against the sides of a snow bank
of cream cheese, eggs and sugar.  The flat center looks like a rink
before the skaters arrive – glassy, unetched, pristine.

The oven in her Hell’s Kitchen walk-up is small and unreliable.
Her counter is a drawing board laid over the bathroom sink.  How
did this miraculous thing emerge from that kitchen
looking like something from Saveur? How did it survive
the cab ride at 6 a.m., the ticket line at Penn Station, the jostling
for a seat and the unexpected change to a shuttle in Hartford?

The old centerpiece is whisked away. We make room for this gift from
the eldest daughter, distant sister, who in years past
stayed in the City or jus brought wine.

by Beth Filson

God rolled the world around in Her mouth like butterscotch candy.
It was so good, so sweet, She hated to spit it out, but when She did —

This is the world that was made:
Two people walking on the bluff,
a dog to give them grace.

Then God slung the blue heron out
over the marsh at high tide to give the world its heart.
The marsh grass knitted its long fingers together
and the shrimp were made, and many small birds went out
into the sky.

Tall grass hid
the kindling spirit, raccoons, opossums, deer.
Low tide revealed our earthen homes: blue crabs, flounder,
oysters with their wet tongues.