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Variations on the Word Love

Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

Poetry Contest

Classic Corner Tribute: Margaret Atwood

Co-Hosts - Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze

Welcome back to the Classic Corner Competitions, Part XXXIX, in an ongoing series introducing serious writers of DUP to the most well-known classical and modern poets.  

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario. She earned a BA from Victoria College, University of Toronto, and an MA from Harvard.

She is the author of over fifteen books of poetry, including Dearly (Ecco, 2020), The Door (Houghton Mifflin 2007); Eating Fire: Selected Poems, 1965-1995 (Virago Press Limited, 1998); and Morning in the Burned House (Houghton Mifflin, 1995), which was a co-winner of the Trillium Award.

Among her novels are The Testaments (Nan A. Talese, 2019), winner of the Booker Prize; The Blind Assassin (Doubleday, 2000), which won the Booker Prize and the Dashiell Hammett Prize; and The Handmaid's Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1985), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Also the author of short story collections, children's books, and nonfiction, Atwood's work has been translated into many languages and published in more than twenty-five countries. Among her numerous honors and awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Molson Award, the Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award, and a Canada Short Fiction Award. In 1986 Ms Magazine named her Woman of the Year.

Atwood has served as a Writer-In-Residence and a lecturer at many colleges and universities. She lives in Toronto.

More information regarding Atwood: https://poets.org/poet/margaret-atwood


Write a new poem honoring Atwood inspired by any one or more of her poems.

Do your best to make us feel as though we are reading poems by Atwood. The more we feel you "capturing her essence" in "your own words" , the higher you will score. This will involve choice of wording, delivery, subject material, formatting, target audience - a wide range of factors.    

The Rules  

1.  Two entries per DUP persona.    

2. No erotica; this is open to all ages and can't be viewed with an ECW ( Extreme Content Warning ).    

3. No exact word limit; however, attempt to keep it no more than 250 - 300 ( unless the poem you're emulating is longer ).    

4. Any form is acceptable ( but studying the poet is advised ).    

5. Hashtag #MargaretAtwood; the page will automatically generate as soon as eight entrants hashtag the theme.  Do NOT copy/paste your poem to the competition, it must be linked to your page with the below information.

6. In your poem's notes, provide links to the poem by Atwood that inspired yours. Without this, we have no way of determining if you were truly inspired by Atwood or simply swapped fresh words into her existing poetry, which is a form of plagiarism.

Comp will be judged by Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze. As in the past and in the event there is a tie, we will call in third ( and possibly fourth ) judge.

LASTLY**** ALL NON-ELIGIBLE ENTRIES WILL BE REMOVED. This is not a competition to deliberately ignore guidelines so as to advertise your work.

You have one month; best of luck to all entrants!

Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

For Physicists

( After Margaret Atwood )

Before the embryo
that multicellular organism
something cracked—
the egg, wafting
as cottonwood
a deeply folded
mucosal surface.

A precursor of cells
differentiating themselves
into angioblasts,
giving rise
to a formation;
roadmaps of vessels
and stem cells
into elements.

One ellele
from each parent
contains every ancestor's DNA
before us; conjoined
its own blood and cells
to evolve—

Blood is the Breath
that bellows life
into human form,
an archaeological archive
continuing its course
through hollow bones,
until whitewashed
earthen fossils

burying another lifetime
in our Akashic records.
Written by Ahavati
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Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

Just a  reminder that this comp is a Margaret Atwood tribute competition; therefore, any entry that doesn't qualify per the guidelines will be removed if not edited. Thank you.

Dangerous Mind
United Kingdom 37awards
Joined 1st Jan 2018
Forum Posts: 760

Twit-twoo Twit-twoo

A screech that penetrates and splits
a head that spins
the eyes like beads
as grief will come from the darkening depth

 Beat its wings
 flap around, not softly
invading, with a noiseless draught

With its ever, yellow haunting eyes
as on its perch, so deftly launch
bears down upon its prey

Bright day, be dark as down it swoops
"twit twoo" "twit twoo" a chorus bleak.
It comes for me and you, and you.
Its talon's clutch and not release
and do not think, that you can hide

For each of us, our camouflage, will be exposed.
For it is hungry chicks, with open mouths
brown feathered flecked, its shadows overcast

Its appetite cant be appeased,
rotten as the grave it's weathering headstone
writes short words in fear.

 Drying essence of regard. we still hold dear
 dew of morning. we cant postpone,
soul's sentinel, its nightly flight
the ache without repair

That ghost, cold shivering of loss
clutch of unhatched eggs, that hold regrets
the aeronaut, that always spots
so vulnerable we are hidden behind false circumspect
a dying star in my cosmos

Written by slipalong
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Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5572

[ CC ] Cricket Song

Is this really necessary?    
I am constantly asking    
There are no critics with answers    
cryptic or straighforward    
only crickets chirping    
---they are just as unhelpful    
Sun settles to earth    
long after my cement crusted    
little, red wheelbarrow    
with a recently flattened tire    
came to an abrupt halt;    
a contraption quite useless    
in its downtime on a good day    
except for collection of rain    
and shade offering to chickens    
---lack of multifunctionality    
on full display as if it was    
the perfect minimalist poem    
I know I already asked this, but    
Is this really necessary?    
in the hopes of reply from something    
other than Mary's busy little builders    
So much of our lives consumed    
with acquiring this and that thing    
to accomplish that and this task    
---all of which excelling in irrelevance    
if you were to fast forward    
the Betamax recording of Life    
to the end result    
Regardless of my energy expended    
shuffling mortar across yard    
for binding a fireplace's brickwork    
the house I am currently building    
already exists in finished form    
for generations to come;    
enjoying its warmth in winter    
after trudging paper-sacked foods    
through snow from the market    
strangers who didn't have to lift a finger    
in the construction of it other than    
writing a check    
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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Non-entry entry

Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

Inserting a quick thank you here to the moderators who have removed non-eligible entries. Please make certain you read the guidelines before entering. Titles can often be misleading. In this case, it's the title of a Margaret Atwood poem ( as is customary in the Classic Corner Comps ), NOT the topic for the competition. Thank you.

Fire of Insight
United States 3awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 225

[ CC ] Swan Song

These days, everywhere you look
on billboards, television, Facebook:      
adverts for invaluable beauty products      
POND’S® Rejuveness      
and other anti wrinkle creams      
guaranteed to torpedo ugly      
ducklings right out of the water!      
Synonymous with flawless skin      
age is the nemesis of youth      
---its agents madly storming beaches      
marching their jackbooted crows feet      
around as many closed eyelids      
as there are heads in the sand      
and asses held up in high esteem      
If only this film
was just a Technicolor dream . . .      
because in 4K Ultra High Definition      
not even us Hollywood starlets      
can hide our hairy      
moled and freckled faces      
from scrutiny surrounding      
the skin's mutiny      
What was wrong with      
Polaroids and VHS tapes      
you sadistic fucks?      
Now more exposed than ever      
the secret of what we really look like      
is out and laid bare
in a red carpet affair      
Alright, Mr. DeMille,      
I'm ready for my close-up
Best to avert your eyes!      
Turn back now while you can!      
For all of you beer bellied Adonises      
are but a Gorgon's breath away      
from becoming Michelangelo's next David    
Written by MaryWalker
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Non-entry entry

Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5572

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

We're down to about 48 hours left to enter this Classic Corner Comp. For those of you who already have, review your entries to ensure they comply to the challenge rules and correct any errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

 <-  Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze

Tyrant of Words
United States 138awards
Joined 11th July 2012
Forum Posts: 1633

Blessed be the Fruit

(Parallels of Fictional Tales and Real-World Spells)
There are these men who claim to have more
knowledge over women’s bodies. They issue laws
to have more control over them under the guise of
morality or God and all that that is pure, and so a
plan is formed, but it’s more of an ominous map
that seems to head toward this fictional dystopia
Quoting scriptures, they look to these ancient laws,  
to a time when women were stoned to death if
they were caught in the act of fornication or some
other decree that defied the male authority.
But now, the hypocrisy is obvious, shameless, and blatant
as it seems they have more skeletons in their closets
then there are bodies disposed of in ditches and  
graves. It’s an indoctrination when the extreme buys
into the idea and so they spew a rhetoric blanketed  
in beliefs they deem to be…divine.
We see it throughout history, throughout cultures all
around the planet, even more so today with the aid
of technology. How many lives were threatened when
they spoke up? The Malala’s, the Parks, the Franks,  
the women who challenged the norms because they
had more to contribute…the Curies, the Nightingales,
the Kellers. How many times were they met with
indifference and resistance.
I ask myself, what about those who had the chance
to speak up and didn’t? Those who subjugated because
they were too afraid or simply didn’t see the truth for
what it was. Perhaps it was the propaganda machine  
that twisted their view of reality, that it was better
to conform than be different from the norm in order
to be able to fit in.  
But it seems some have bought into the ideology with
all their heart and mind, without regard for science
or facts. They’ve gotten so deep into it, they’re willing
to sacrifice their lives. They’re willing to support the  
men who oppress women simply because their lives
and views are somehow better than those who have
But I guess, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
doesn’t really apply if you don’t have the resources
or wealth to do as you please. It seems like many have
fallen under a spell to sell their individuality for the sake
of preservation and status. It’s as if in tying the knot
with the hangman, they carry the noose. It’s as if marrying
the executioner, they get to hold the axe.  
Written by wallyroo92
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Dangerous Mind
United States 28awards
Joined 30th June 2016
Forum Posts: 692

Rabbit Song

I smell that you
are chasing me with your eyes,
and I leave my scent behind
so that you may know the joy of
my leaping / if only for ignorance
of what a stone feels.

My only conquest
is to break the grasses down;
not to diminish them but
encourage them by chewing
their stalks to a pulp.
I eat what nobody wants
and leave their digested remains behind
in your overgrown pasture.

How do I survive;
this is how, and why --

I am light as air, I think,
and the ways of the world don't
collect in my fur or between my toes
where my nails claw loose dirt
agitating microbes to no real

I have no more to do with
what purpose surrounds me
than what I had brought
to those streamlined channels
I created and memorized:

They will close behind me
              when I leave;
Winter will erase my existence for a time
and I'll become transience

Somewhere else;
I will burrow and outlive the frosts
to be remembered in Spring as
the tenacious one who never really tries
even in the patterns of
grassroots which become all
I can truly exist for.

Written by PoetsRevenge
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Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

Thank you each for braving the Classic Corner Comps! Judging is in progress and we will announce the winner asap.

Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

Thank you all for braving the Classics and for your patience throughout the judging process! Congratulations to your entries, and the winners:

FIRST PLACE: Wallyroo 92: Blessed be the Fruit

Bravo! Just Bravo! Congratulations on your win. That final stanza was remarkable and sealed the piece ( but please put an end-stop at the end of the first stanza to match the rest ). And anyone who hasn't read Atwood's 'Marrying the Hangman' ( particularly the notes ), needs to.

I am not quick to shrug off 'The Handmaid's Tale' as are others. I wasn't quick to shrug off 'Star Trek' as were others. Now look where the space program is headed. For centuries the masculine has attempted to suppress the feminine. Just when we think we are moving forward, it seems we step backwards.

Either way, there is an unbalanced, masculine force attempting to dominate this country. Unfortunately, it already dominates many other countries. You totally captured that essence in this piece.

Again, congratulations on your win!

Second Place: PoetsRevenge: Rabbit Song

Atwood's Rat Song is not only one of my favorites, but also one of the most difficult of her pieces to understand. Many misinterpret it as humans ingesting rats ( and they do in many parts of the world ); however, that is not what she is conveying at all.

The Rat is speaking to the human as a sentient being. It's not a coincidence that she chooses a rat. They are one of the most detestable and expendeble known creatures to humanity. Thus, it's almost a level of enlightenment if we can view such a creature in the light of compassion and a fellow sentient on this planet.

The rat recognizes the Oneness of all creatures from the Source of Life, which is what is referred to in the final stanza and in reference to the throat.  It's the voice of LIFE that the rat is referring to, something every sentient being on earth shares. She also referenced the nature of animals, i.e. - the rat's nest of human clothing ( which is much more remarkable then the human diet of animals meat ) referring that we all do what we do to survive and propogate the species.

So, in essence, Atwood has taken this lowly creature, despised by humans and given it a voice of compassion vs retribution. As humans, it's almost impossible to reisist that desire for revenge when others persecute us; however, the rat has done that here through Atwood's poem.

What a compassionate person she must've been to convey such a beautiful message.  it's interesting to gauge human reactions after reading this.

Your poem also conveys the spirit of survival through the rabbit's natural inclinations. It also stresses that the rabbit leaves nothing behind as far as a carbon footprint. It destroys nothing, but encourages growth instead. It's a beautiful narrative from the rabbit's perspective of its existence.

Congratulations on your placement.

Third Place: Slipalong, Twit-twoo Twit-twoo

Slip, you did a phenomenal job stepping out of your comfort zone. We are amazed at your progress in such little time.

Owls can be viscious predators, and they say hell hath no wrath as that of a woman scorned. Thus, Atwood did a phenomenal job conveying such predatory ruthlessness with that of a women who had been murdered, and was back for revenge. Animal spirits offer us their innate talents to imbibe and strengthen within ourselves.

Your poem was beautiful in imagery. You are truly becoming a master of verse in just the few short years you have been practicing.  

That being said, there are a few inconsistencies with punctuation throughout the verse. For example, there are no end-stops until stanza four; yet, you're using capitalization and lower-case in the previous three, which would denote the end/beginning of new sentences.

You did absolutely amazing with your possessives; that was very impressive up until the sixth stanza:

Its appetite can( ' )t be appeased,
rotten as the grave [s]it's[/s] its weathering headstone
writes short words in fear.

In the seventh stanza you have an inadvertent end-stop mid-sentence:

Drying essence of regard [ . ] we still hold dear

We suggest combing through the inconsistencies, especially regarding punctuation. This poem is too beautiful a poem, too rich in palpable imagery, and most importantly, definitely reminiscent of a classic corner entry.

You would have scored MUCH higher had it not been so inconsistent.

Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5572

Conratulations! Wonderful entries from 3 of the hardest working poets ever to grace DUP!

Dangerous Mind
United Kingdom 37awards
Joined 1st Jan 2018
Forum Posts: 760

Congrats to Wallyroo & PoetsRevenge and Ahavati for the judging note, in my case hard but fair (no laurels to rest but a crown of shame to wear)

Tyrant of Words
United States 113awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 12014

slipalong said:Congrats to Wallyroo & PoetsRevenge and Ahavati for the judging note, in my case hard but fair (no laurels to rest but a crown of shame to wear)

I call BOLLOCKS! There is no crown of shame for that entry. I feel because you stepped out of your comfort zone and pushed hard, you were merely emotionally exhausted afterward and ready to move on without returning to double-check the edits.

It was a stellar entry, Slip. You'll be on top of it the next time. <3

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