We are very pleased to announce judge Neil Carpathios’s pick of “Travels to the Valley of Lost Things,” by Mary K. O’Melveny, as the winner of this year’s Slippery Elm Prize in Poetry!
Neil says, “‘Travels to the Valley of Lost Things’ creatively overlaps with the famous epic poem ‘Orlando Furioso’ (1516), by the great Italian poet Ludovio Ariosto. In the original epic, the character Orlando loses his sanity and the character Astolpho journeys to the moon, which is where all lost things are said to end up, in hopes of retrieving his cousin’s wits. In ‘Travels,’ the narrator similarly travels to the moon in a final desperate attempt to retrieve her friend’s lost memories and mind, due to dementia. This act of brave loyalty is made powerful through beautifully crafted rhythms, subtle rhymes, and effective imagery. The narrator’s love for her friend—a love that is metaphorically ‘to the moon and back’—pulses through every finely rendered line. This is a uniquely fresh re-envisioning, and merging, of both an epic poem and the painful truth of dementia.”
Thanks to everyone who entered, and we can’t wait to bring you this winning poem!