Second Prize – 16th Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest

I’m delighted that two of my poems received Second Prize at the 16th Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest

The first poem is based on a photograph of Adèle Bloch-Bauer, “a wealthy society woman and hostess of a renowned Viennese Salon at the beginning of the twentieth century” as well as a favourite muse of Gustav Klimt. According to Elana Shapira (lecturer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria), “one can easily understand why art and life seemed to blend together in her eyes” (you can read Bloch-Bauer’s story here). She is also the only woman Klimt has painted twice (or perhaps three times).

You can also read about–the now famous–real-life story surrounding Klimt’s painting of Adèle Bloch-Bauer, which was stolen by the Nazis during WWII, and the film that followed, here.

Instead of focusing on his paintings of her, however, I wanted to look at a photograph of her. I wanted to look her in the eye.

Here is a short excerpt of the poem:


he sketched her ad infinity—
Judith to his Holofernes,
his golden baby. Amputated presence,
he does not care to stitch back,

exposes her satanic side.
Her capitalist gaze, costly despair.
The gold-plated armrest across which,
her porcelain hand, rests

numb to the wealth that supports it—
so much is made of gold,
so much is sad.


The second poem is inspired by Klimt’s Portrait of the Dead Otto Zimmermann which was painted in 1902.

The painting itself is most difficult to look at, not only because it is the portrait of his dead son, Otto (who died at a couple of months old), but also because of its use of bland, weak hues.

In a nutshell, the poem explores the emotions involved with losing a young child. It was one of the most exhausting poems to concoct.  How do you write about grief? Worst: grief surrounding a baby, I would ask myself. You write about the colour that is not there, for one.

It is one of the few Klimt paintings that is subdued in color — in stark contrast to his often exquisite chromatic pirouettes.

Here is a short excerpt of the poem:


Much younger and rosy-cheeked,
your baby boy is now
navajo white. No use for gold anymore.
No need for blazing backgrounds.

The stars in him,
then out. The universe,
a massive buildup of extraordinary stuff,
then ether.


You’ll be able to read the entire poems soon.

The winning poems will be published in issue #187 (Autumn 2016) of The Antigonish Review.

The judges for Poetry this year were Kim Trainor and Peter Sanger.


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  1. Mama Duska

    Bravo moj umetnik-pesnik. Nastavi tvoj plemenit rad.Cestitam ti dosadadnji uspeh i mnoge sledece uspehe. Ponisni smo na tebe.Voli te mama.

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