Poets on the Pumpkinvine

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We are pleased to announce the three winners of the first annual Pumpkinvine Poetry Contest, which concluded January 31, 2018

First prize: Four tickets for the annual dinner or Pumpkinvine Bike Ride.

By Matthew Lind

Each day it waits, patiently.
I know it’s there
And even that
Fills me with anticipation.
It is a place where freedom lies
And comfort, perhaps
And awe…
Aren’t the Rocky Mountains “awe”?
Maybe Precipice Trail,
Red River Gorge,
Angel’s Landing,
The Highland Trail…
But the Pumpkinvine?
Let me explain.
It is awe,
Brought down to earth;
A miracle that forms
This wondrous NOW.
It does not shout;
It whispers:
“Rider, awake!
Walker, awake!”
There is a place
For majestic mountain peaks,
For the overload of senses
That completely humbles.
Yet here this is:
Of forest and field,
Of understated beauty,
Of awe laid low.
Our back yard
Where we live,
Yet animated by the same
Dizzying atoms
That form Yosemite’s vistas.
It does not shout.
It whispers:
“Come, walk my path.

Second prize: Three tickets for the annual dinner or Pumpkinvine Bike Ride.

The Path
By Elizabeth Linn

I am snowy carpets, bare branches
and peace.
I am green grass, budding leaves and
I am warm sunshine, wildflowers and
I am crisp air, vibrant colors and
In all seasons, I am exchanged
greetings, shared smiles and

Third prize: 1 ticket for the annual dinner or Pumpkinvine Bike Ride.

By Steve Ellis

Silence on the Pumpkinvine.
The bike chain hums
And peace overtakes my soul.

Comment by Ervin Beck, contest judge

All the poems fulfill in a thoughtful, artful way the goal of the contest: to help us see and experience the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail in a new, imaginative way. Matt Lind casts his poem in a free verse form and uses very short lines to create a breathless, passionate argument. He persuades us to “Awake!” to the beauty that lies in the seemingly mundane “atoms” of the nature trail. No matter that his poem has 40 lines instead of the limit of 30 stated by the contest rules. Plenty of the short lines could be combined with others, without loss.

Elizabeth Linn personifies the trail, giving it a speaking voice. Like the Psalms and Walt Whitman, her pleasing poetic form consists of parallel sentence structures, with images blossoming into meaning. Elizabeth knew where to stop. Just one more line would be too much.

Steve Ellis masters the haiku form, the Japanese poetry that consists of 17 syllables divided among three lines. Much in little. His concrete images move us toward deep feeling.

Consider this: Every time we ride the Pumpkinvine we engage a kind of proto-poem. Our trail does not have a boring, literal name, like Monon, 146th Street, Angola, B & O, or Big Four. We could have named our trail similarly, as the Lakeshore and Michigan Southern. Unlike those names, our trail is a “pumpkinvine,” that is, a metaphor, and metaphors are basic ingredients in poems.

The asphalt is really a pumpkin stalk, winding back and forth, up and down, creeping slowly toward Shipshewana or Goshen. A “branch” of the vine heads for the Essenhaus. The streams and rivulets are tendrils on the vine. The wildflowers are pumpkin buds. Where is the pumpkin fruit? Maybe in an Essenhaus pie?

Admiring these poems and riding on the metaphor might inspire you to write a poem for the 2019 contest. “Awake!” Enjoy!