Roses are red.
Beaches are sand.
A poem on the American dream
can win you a grand.
That’s the bottom line of a poetry contest being sponsored by Jewish Currents magazine. Poems will be judged by former New Jersey poet laureate – and Jewish Currents reader – Gerald Stern.
Despite the title of the magazine, neither the poem nor the poets must be Jewish.
“I intended it to be a broad subject,” said the magazine’s editor, Lawrence Bush. “The American dream has psychedelic qualities, nightmarish qualities, dreamy and fulfilled and magnificent qualities.
“I’m sure many writers would look to their stash of poems and would find poems that would fit under that rubric.”
At the same time, he’s well aware of the significance that the American dream – which is represented by the Statue of Liberty on the contest’s promotional materials – holds for American Jews.
“The American Jewish experience is a glorious experience,” Bush said. “It unleashed Jews as political innovators, cultural creators, and world changers in a marvelous way. There’s a lot to talk about in the interaction of Jewish particularism and Jewish identity that exploded in America.”
Bush has been editing the 67-year-old quarterly publication for just over a decade. He is particularly proud of the arts section, “sixteen pages in color which presents visual artists and poets.”
With its roots in old-time Jewish leftism, the magazine now “cultivates Jewish identity as countercultural, or anti-establishment, or as a the-world-is-not-perfected-and-we-can-help-perfect-it identity,” he said. “We are the embodiment of what’s left of that kind of progressive Jewish spirit, and are trying to reinvent it all the time.”
Bush hopes the poetry contest will become an annual occurrence.
There is a $18 entry fee (for the submission of up to three poems), which includes a one-year subscription to the magazine. Poems must be previously unpublished, and the deadline to enter is January 15. The top 36 poems will be published as a chapbook. Full details are at http://jewishcurrents.org/poetry-prize