Another year, another Literary LEO.
This year, the entries brought something that we haven’t seen enough of in recent years: a tilt toward the feminine, in tone, submissions, and the deep tenderness in the entries. It was a kind year for choosing winners and honorable mentions, as we were highly impressed with the quality of the work.
We hope that you’ll agree and make plans to send your own voice to the magazine for the next Literary LEO.
As usual, there are the categories we’re all used to: Poems, Short Fiction, Cartoons, and Photography, both Black & White and Color.
The stories span experiences, settings, and tone, but they all share something that we’re all looking for: a way to connect to our experiences. We look for meaning, feeling, and understanding in so many places, and one of the ways literature helps us is by putting that experience into words and giving our humanity form.
The poems, likewise, speak to a world where we are trying to make sense. Sometimes it’s making sense of loss, and at other times we are seeking to understand the experience of existence.
The writers in this year’s Literary LEO have beautifully captured a span of these moments, and we’re exceptionally proud to share them with our readers.
Likewise, in our Photography categories, we saw a range of artists keen on deeply observing the objects, life, and world around them. Photography is art created to look. It feeds our voyeuristic nature. We “see” the world in a particular way, in light or darkness, shadows or shade, and the photography entries this year gave us all of those things. In the Cartoon category, we’re seeing growth in the number of entries, but we definitely would like to see more next year. Louisville has an amazing number of artists, and perhaps, instead of only cartoons, we might need to broaden our category to 2-D visual art. At the same time, Louisville has an amazing number of cartoon, webtoon, and comics creators that we’d love to see in this category. We chose winners, and we’re happy that they chose to share their work with us. We want more of you next year.
Here are the Poetry winners:
First Place- “Caution: Sharp Objects Inside” by Leslie Mendoza
Second Place- “The Night Two Lovers Leapt” by Frogg Corpse
Third Place- “Mag Bar Post Show” by Romana Bereneth
“The Language of Birds” by Jenn Watson
“A Wish Made of Clay” by Lacy Phillips
“Ancestral Connections” Ayla Roberts
“Enter a Silence” by 3PJ
(jump links coming soon)
Poetry: First Place
Caution: Sharp Objects Inside
By Leslie Mendoza
Paper can hurt to touch.
I miss you notes.
Organized and categorized,
I place them in a box.
Pieces of my heart,
sealed and shut.
Love of my life.
Poetry: Second Place
The Night Two Lovers Leapt
By Frogg Corpse
In the last warmth of autumns hold
Gripping damp November cold
Protection from this fear
While stripped from comfort clothes.
Leering in the dark
Sweat, rinsing palms,
Moving through words once smooth
Lost along ambiguous thought
An arid sugared spice
Mulling on the mind
Humming a little tune
While staring into night
Sorrows shedding leaves
By the limbering of the pines
Near the douglas keeping watch
At the site where windows cry
Under pattered raining roof,
Sounding querent from broken breast
The heart once beat its truth
The night two lovers leapt
Poetry: Third Place
Mag Bar Post Show
By Romana Bereneth
Who will remember
The things we did
When humans are gone?
The cars. The cars know.
That must be why
They come for us now.
Poetry: Honorable Mention
Language of Birds
By Jenn Watson
The language of birds is purely economical—
“Here are berries” or “Please choose me”. Sometimes
“Share my shelter” or “Beware of owls”. Always
a precise tool for survival, which is all anyone wants
anyway— to survive when one is hungry or wants
company or a place to hide just for a while.
Never, I think, do birds gossip idly. I do not
believe the crows whisper about the sparrows or
the wrens complain about the starlings. There is no room
for this in a world of feathers (everyone
might whine about the jays from time to time, though).
But there is no place for petty meanness
amongst birds, where everyone means to survive and know
they must rely on each other to do so.
A Wish Made of Clay
By Lacy Phillips
I pile the dish soap bubbles, idly wishing I had the power to
speak life into the transitory, faintly crackling mass,
to craft a golem who would scrub for me as I put off writing.
I would watch the rainbows swirl across the mounded surface of his skin,
perhaps find the inspiration there that I do not see in my reflected face
rippling with every drip that falls from my puckered fingers.
Who among those who wrote the first tales of transmuting death to truth
could have imagined how different their scrolls would be
from the scrolling I do now in place of the storytelling
I tell myself I am meant for?
They have done the thing I find myself now desiring,
given life to an entire tradition through the simple act of leaving a record.
I search their words for the learning I ache for
that I might one day animate a stack of pulp
and send whatever shambling corpse of a book that results
careening from heart to heart after mine has gone still.
By Ayla Roberts
The reason we smile when we swing
Is because it is silly
To be up in the air
And then all of a sudden
(Except we don’t really have to fall)
Because a genius invented the swing.
I push my daughters tiny back while her hands hold on tightly
There’s a moment where she reaches the top
And is headed back down
but for a split second her bottom and the seat are no longer touching
A moment of uncertainty, of no gravity, of total chaos.
A belly smile rushes across her face
Which causes a chain reaction,
Cue my belly smile.
In pops a memory of my folks
Pushing me on a swing
My belly smile and then theirs and then on down the line
The first swing can be dated back to 1300 BC-
Mom, dad, who pushed you?