2023 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest Winner


I think of you out there
on the sandy edge of things
—Anthony Hecht, “Message from the City”

On viny medians near Fayetteville,
spring in reverse begins un-greening trees.
Ryegrass recalls its pollen. Creeks re-freeze.
A rumor of itself, the nascent year
withholds its buds and songbirds disappear.
Unsalted roads carved into each pale hill
fade under drifts like names and dates on stone.
When passing stubble cornfields turn ingrown,
the rain becoming snow becoming rain
rescinds itself, a dull redundancy.
Gray hair goes black as carbon paper in
the evening rearview where I swear I see
a lost day dawning with the sun’s decline,
west veering east, you coming back to me.

Brian Brodeur is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Some Problems with Autobiography (2023), which won the 2022 New Criterion Poetry Prize, and Every Hour Is Late (2019). Recent poems and criticism appear in The Hopkins Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Criterion, and The Writer’s Chronicle.

Praise for the winning sonnet:

“Driving North from Florida in March” is a lovely, elegiac sonnet, which moves gracefully inwards from a description of landscape to its reticent final line. The language-choice is very fine: “a rumor of itself” for the spring landscape giving way to a colder one; the stubble-fields “turned ingrown.” The last line recalls Donne’s “Good Friday: Riding Westward,” and stands up to that recollection.

–Julia Griffin, Judge