Sensational Challenge Winners

An inside look into the Vocal Curation Team's favorite poems from the Sensational Challenge

By Vocal Curation TeamPublished about a year ago β€’ Updated about a year ago β€’ 2 min read

At Vocal, we're always going on and on about the freedoms of limitation and how walls and decisions and editing make great art. But sometimes you just need to let your creative hair down, throw some paint at the wall. This was one of our more open prompts, free for interpretation, few limits, just give us a poem, a sense of the senses.

We received poems that spanned the spectrum, from classic rhyme schemes to poems that looked and felt very much like fiction stories. However you approached this Challenge, we were thrilled to read your entries.

Here are the winners of the Sensational Challenge and spotlight on one of the Runners-Up. You can check out the full list of winners HERE.

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner

Suze Kay for Yellow Wood

My dearest wish: he smells no smoke, tastes only honey.

First, we have the title. Yellow Wood. There is a bright sturdiness to this title. And that's what we found this entire poem to be, sturdy and bright. It is no new exercise to pair tragedy with natural beauty, but so often, the tragedy is consumed by the beauty, as though the author wants death or whatever near it to be subsumed by time and nature, to distort the hurt of the moment, turn it into something more forgiving like a bird or the moon. But not here. Kay gives us a visceral, clearly spoken poem about a suicide among the Yellow Wood. And it was this clear, succinct language that set this poem apart. No blinking from the truth. A man killed himself today, and this is how it went. Terribly sad, but we couldn't look away. That's great writing. Congratulations, Suze Kay!

$250 Second Place

Stephanie Ginger for Acoustics

to illuminate the creak

of the Earth’s backbone

This poem required more than one read. When we finally did take it all in, it sat within us like a still pond, shuddered slightly by the wind but only at the perfect moment. An ode to Greek acoustics, what a subtle, unexpected subject, and from the ear of a child. This piece is simply beautiful. Its sounds are beautiful and it comes off of the tongue like silk. It made us want to write more poetry. Congratulations, Stephanie Ginger!

Honorable Mention

Grace Follett for The Taxidermist

A starling is stretched and divvied up

across the operating table

We read this poem as a battle between human and animal. By our very nature we interfere with nature, we cannot help it, yet we are of nature, but so, so different. And even when we are appreciating, we are destroying. We are our own folly and that of the rest of the planet. At least that's our take. Well done, Grace Follett!


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Comments (19)

  • Ifeoluwa Ajayiabout a year ago

  • Mike Barzacchiniabout a year ago

    Congratulations to the winning poems and poets!

  • MARIE ODEMS about a year ago


  • Aphoticabout a year ago

    Congratulations everyone! Great poems!

  • Noraabout a year ago


  • Kristen Balyeatabout a year ago

    Congrats to everyone! Job well done! πŸ’«βœ¨

  • Osarumwense Oghomwenabout a year ago

    Nice article

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Congratulations to each of the winners!

  • Amjad Ateih Dibabout a year ago

    you have a nice story keep going I wish you better future

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    Congratulations to all!

  • sleepy draftsabout a year ago

    Congratulations to all the winners! These were incredible to read. ❀️

  • Testabout a year ago

    Vocal Curation Team, you've smashed it in the judging department. These poems are incredible. Congrats to all winners! So well-deserved.

  • Oluremi Adeoye about a year ago

    Congratulations to the picked winners.

  • Congratulations to the winners! So many great entries.

  • Judey Kalchik about a year ago

    Great choices!

  • Kendall Defoe about a year ago

    Well done, folks!

  • Dana Crandellabout a year ago

    Congratulations, all!

  • Congratulations EveryoneπŸ’–πŸŽ‰

  • Taylor Davisabout a year ago

    Congrats everyone! This was a fun challenge!

Vocal Curation TeamWritten by Vocal Curation Team

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