Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Friday, May 15, 2015

"Chiaroscuro" Wins the Leslie Mellichamp Prize


James M. Coughlin High School, Wilkes-Barre, PA

My sonnet, "Chiaroscuro", was chosen by poet David Stephenson (winner of the 2007 Richard Wilbur Award) as the recipient of The Lyric's Leslie Mellichamp Prize.

I wrote the poem in honor of the deceased classmates of the James M. Coughlin High School Class of 1968, and my audio recording of it was played at the 45th class reunion in 2013. The imagery in the closing couplet was inspired by our school's Alma Mater song.

In his comments, Mr. Stephenson wrote that he admired the poem's "graceful diction, reflective mood, and clean endings."

I am particularly indebted to Jean Mellichamp Milliken, editor of The Lyric, for it was she who accepted my first two published poems in 2004.

Here is the poem:

Chiaroscuro

On summer evenings we observe the way
the light and shadows merge across our hills
sunset lingers on, yet Scorpio spills
her stars into the embers of the day.
We gather in this tender, mellow light
so far removed in time, and here we see
a friend, a love. We note an absentee.
We meet between the dusk and coming night
to share the stories of the lives we've led,
to hear our songs again, and raise a glass
to health and happiness, and to the class
of '68. Of those who've gone ahead—
where noontide joys eclipse both moon and sun
we quietly remember every one.