2022 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest Winner:

The Virgin Learning to Read by Julia Griffin

The mother smiles, one finger poised to guide
Her daughter’s eyes along a page of wood.      
The child’s small hands hold up the book: a good     
Pupil.  We cannot see the text inside.

How kindly those old sculptors understood: – 
Behold a girl, her parents’ care and pride,
Endowed with a humanity denied
To her in birth, in death, in motherhood.

In the beginning were the words God said:
The little figure waits, already stirred
By that strange breath, already part bereft:

Observe the upraised hands, the neat bent head.
Be it with me according to Thy word

Imagine Hebrew letters: right to left.

Julia Griffin lives in Southeast Georgia with a demanding basset hound. Inspired originally by her father, she has been writing verse for decades, but has only recently found a home for it—mostly in wonderful Light.  To win a prize named after Kim Bridgford has delighted and honored her more than she can express.

Praise for the winning sonnet:

There is a quiet authority and sure-footedness to this ekphrastic Italian sonnet that appeals to me. The pure rhymes are not strained, but fall in a natural syntax. The most moving line comes just before the volta: that Mary is generally denied a humanity in “birth, in death, in motherhood,” which this observed almost universal moment (a child being taught to read) returns to her. The ending, in an unusual rhetorical gesture, is a small corrective to our imagination, a reordering, that, with its tweak of precision, places the universal moment in a specific context.

–A. E. Stallings, Judge