2017 Frost Farm Prize Winner
May 2, 2017. The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, and the Hyla Brook Poets today announced that the winner of the 7th Annual Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry is Caitlin Doyle of Cincinnati, Ohio, for her poem, "Wish."
Caitlin Doyle receives $1,000 and an honorarium to be the featured reader at The Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, on Friday, June 16, 2017, 7:00pm. The reading kicks off the third annual Frost Farm Poetry Conference (June 16-18, 2017).
Caitlin Doyle’s poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlantic, Boston Review, The New Criterion, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Threepenny Review, and others. Her poetry has also been featured through the PBS NewsHour Poetry Series and the Poetry Foundation’s “Poem of the Day” series. Doyle has held Writer-In-Residence teaching positions at Penn State, St. Albans School, and Interlochen Arts Academy. Her awards and fellowships include residencies at the Yaddo Colony, the James Merrill House, and the MacDowell Colony, as well as an Amy Award in Poetry through Poets & Writers. She has received scholarships through the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, among others. She is currently an Elliston Fellow in Poetry at the University of Cincinnati, and she will serve as the Assistant Editor of The Cincinnati Review this upcoming fall. To learn more about her background and writing, you can visit her website at http://caitlindoylepoetry.com.
Commenting about this year’s winning poem, the judge, Deborah Warren said, "This poem is a masterpiece masquerading (with its incantatory beat and simple language) as a Mother Goose rhyme. It’s also that rare poem where the form is integral to the story. Each of the first four trimeter couplets expresses one of the speaker’s wishes. Each line begins with ‘I told him I needed’ and the final three couplets look back on the wishes with wrenching regret. Following each little couplet is a parenthesis: one tetrameter line explaining why the wish, although granted, ironically failed. The parentheses play on the idiom ‘wishing for the moon.’ They rhyme, and—taken by themselves—collectively make a poem in their own right. On the other hand, if you do remove these parentheses, the seven trimeter couplets themselves make up an unrhymed sonnet—with a conventional volta between the octave and the sestet. It’s the poem’s tone that is so sad. The deceptively nursery-rhymish repetitions (I told him in the octave; Now I have in the sestet) only emphasize the speaker’s desolation."
The judge read all 763 anonymous entries and, in addition to selecting the winner, chose two poems as Finalists:
"Conversion Therapy" by Yakov Azriel, of Efrat, Israel.
"At a Performance of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltze" by Jean Kreiling, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
Deborah Warren said, "Looking through over 700 entries in the Frost Farm poetry competition was so rewarding! Reading so many wonderful poems written in meter was literal music to my ears. After narrowing the ‘semi-finalists’ to a half-dozen poems, I had a delightful but difficult job. But too much excellence is not a bad problem for a judge. I thank all the participants for giving me such pleasant job!.”
Caitlin Doyle described her reaction to being selected as the winner: "I’m honored to be chosen as the winner of the Frost Farm Prize. Robert Frost is one of the first poets who entranced me in childhood, and he has remained a major figure in my reading life. Whenever I teach poetry, I start the first day of class with a focus on his poem “Birches,” which I’ve always regarded as one of the most stirring and masterful poems in the English language. My hope is for students to feel in their bodies the way that the rhythm of the poem mirrors its narrative movements and emotional contours. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time this summer at the Frost Farm in Derry, where Frost wrote many of his most compelling poems, and I hope to glimpse some New Hampshire birch trees through the window of the barn."
I told him I needed time –
he gave me a cuckoo clock
(I couldn’t work the winding key)
I told him I needed space –
he gave me a telescope
(or make the moon look back at me)
I told him I needed change –
he gave me a penny jar
(or stop from spending every cent)
I told him I needed more –
he led me to the well
(or count up every wish I’d spent)
Now I have so much time,
the cuckoo’s flown away
(the moon’s a clock that’s come unwound)
Now I have so much space,
it’s night for days on end
(the moon’s a shadow on the ground)
Now I have so much change,
the well’s just one more wish
(the moon’s a coin the well has drowned)
Previous Prize Winners:
2016 James Najarien of Auburndale, Massachussets for "Dark Ages" -- Judge David Rothman
2015 Kevin Durkin of Santa Monica, California for "Meteor Crater" - Judge Joshua Mehigan
2014 Rob Wright of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for "Meetings with my Father" - Judge Rhina Espaillat
2013 Caki Wilkinson of Sewanee, Tennessee, for "Arts and Crafts" - Judge Catherine Tufariello
2012 Richard Meyer of Mankato, Minnesota, for, "Fieldstone" - Judge Richard Wakefield
2011 Sharon Fish Mooney of Coshocton, Ohio for "Dimly Burning Wicks" - Judge Bill Baer
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About the Frost Farm’s Hyla Brook Poets
The Frost Farm was home to the poet and his family from 1900-1909. The Hyla Brook Poets, a 501(c)(3), started in 2008 as a monthly poetry workshop. In March 2009, the Hyla Brook Reading Series launched with readings by emerging poets as well as luminaries such as Maxine Kumin, David Ferry, Linda Pastan, and Sharon Olds. The Frost Farm Prize was introduced in 2010, followed by the inaugural Frost Farm Poetry Conference in 2015.