Winners of the 2024 Wandering Words Sidewalk Poetry Competition announced

(Stock Image/iStock)

Authors of the five winning poems of the 2024 Wandering Words Sidewalk Poetry Competition will be recognized at the Second Sunday Summer Concert on Sunday, June 9. The Ron Tegeler Organ Jazz Trio will open the summer concert series at 5:00 pm on the green in front of Musser Public Library, 408 East Second Street in Muscatine. Each winning entry as well as the poems that received honorable mentions will be read in between musical sets.

In April, the Muscatine County Arts Council launched its 9th annual poetry contest in conjunction with National Poetry Month. It received a record number of 105 entries from 93 individual poets. The poems were divided into two categories: adult and student. All eligible poems were judged by Mary Swander, an award-winning writer of drama, poetry and nonfiction, who served as the Poet Laureate of Iowa from 2009 to 2019.

The five winning entries were penned by Pam Cantrell, Tony ‘Tone’ Loconsole, Annette Matjucha Hovland, Erabella Ross and Sawyer Glenney-Knerr, an 8th grade student of Nicole Miller at Wilton Junior-Senior High School. The five poems selected to receive honorable mentions were written by Bob Blake, Ashly Carter, Gloria

Casas, Duffy DeFrance, and Tyler Storment, a 7th grade student at Wilton Junior-Senior High School.

Each winner of the Wandering Words poetry contest will receive a cash prize of $50. The winning poems will be engraved into sidewalks within Muscatine County by Kellys Stone Engraving of Marion, Iowa. The location of this year’s selection has yet to be determined. The Arts Council is in the process of creating a searchable online map and directory of all poems etched in concrete throughout the county.

Here are the 2024 Wandering Words Sidewalk Poetry Winners:

E’s Truck

My tread grips the globe,
Churning mud, flinging it
Across my belly,

Until dried,
It crumbles,
Dotting the earth below

Pam Cantrell
Muscatine, Iowa

Sun rises over the river.
Barges drift downstream.
Raised arms heft rakes,
harvest clam shells to be
fashioned into buttons.
My work done, I retire
older, slower, but kinder.
The water is my home

Tony ‘Tone’ Loconsole
Muscatine, Iowa

Out in the garden
among the blooms and dew
Gray catbird calls
high on a treetop,
singing snippets of
neighboring backyard birds
and now, raw reggae notes
from the Caribbean

Annette Matjucha Hovland
Muscatine, Iowa

I love cats
All varieties of cats
Short cats, tall cats
Big cats, small cats
All colors: orange, gray, black, white
Many patterns: dots,
stripes, hearts, spots

Erabella Ross Muscatine, Iowa

Flathead catfish
Iowa darter
Smallmouth bass
Hornhead chub
Ironcolor shiner
Northern pike
Grass carp

Sawyer Glenney-Knerr, 8th grade student
Wilton Junior-Senior High School
Nicole Miller, Teacher

And here are the poems that received an Honorable Mention:

Lamplights along the path
winked before awakening
The sun’s last seemed to
melt behind the bluff
The mighty river was calm
draining to the Gulf
Not a ship or a periscope
I felt cold. It was July.

Bob Blake Muscatine, Iowa

Grew up riding horses
going on trail rides
riding bareback, racing
them fast in the field
pretending to be cowgirls
My sister didn’t hold on
and tumbled to the ground

Ashly Carter Wilton, Iowa

My skin is brown
I do not frown
I once was sad
But now I’m glad
Yo soy morena
Como arena
My skin is brown
Don’t let me down

Gloria Casas Muscatine, Iowa

Garden is vibrant from
recent rains, peas are up
Fingers loosen black dirt
Pick strawberries to eat
Relax on front porch
Fragrant from violets,
Pansies, mums, asters
Snap beans, shell peas

Duffy DeFrance Wilton, Iowa

Wildcat Den is nature
Steep paths, rocks, trees
Deer, birds, bugs galore
Pine Creek flows free
Under Pine Mill Bridge
Schoolhouse circa 1920
Wildcat Den is history

Tyler Storment, 7th grade student Wilton Junior-Senior High School
Nicole Miller, Teacher