Category Archives: Naomi Cherkofsky Contest

And the winners are…

I apologize for not posting these sooner.  Life got away from me a bit. But, I am happy to announce the winners of the 2017 Naomi Cherkofsky contest. If possible, join us at the Open Mic, Beverly Public Library, April 22, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

  1. Otto Laske, Gloucester, Mass, for the poem “July Garden.”
  2. Jennifer Revill, Middleton, Mass, for the poem “Seven Turkeys.”
  3. Richard Samuel Davis, Byfield, Mass., for the poem “Magic Act.”

Honorable mentions, which were not ranked so are simply listed wily nily:

  1. Mark Hudson, Evanston, Ill, for the poem “Ostrich Eggs.”
  2. Linda Werner, Marblehead, Mass., for the poem “For Closure.”
  3. Sandra Thaxter, Newburyport, Mass., for the poem “Geronimo’s Bones.”
  4. Martha Perry, Rockport, Mass., for the poem “Allahu Akbar.”
  5. Jennifer Revill, Middleton, Mass., for the poem, “The Note We Found in Grandma’s Purse.”


Thank you to all who entered poems. It was a very good group and a tough competition. Congratulations to those who won!


Remember the Contest!

I do hope that many of you are writing your poems and planning which ones you will submit to the North Shore Poets’ Forum annual Naomi Cherkofsky Contest. The deadline is March 15 — less than two months! See rules under the tab “Poetry Contests” above.

The winners are invited to read their poems, and a few more, during our annual celebration  of National Poetry Month, this year to be held on April 22 at the Beverlly Public Library be, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

The Forum has been hosting this contest for, I don’t know, maybe 25 years. Naomi was one of the original members of the Forum who had a wonderful spirit and was generous in her encouragement of fellow poets, particularly the less confident (me!).

So, please sharpen your pencils and join us for a wonderful celebration of poetry.

To conclude this post, I am including a poem that I hope you will enjoy.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of  childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should  consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to  sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear:  the darkness around us is deep.


NS Poets’ Forum Meets Saturday!

HI folks,

The new season at the North Shore Poets’ Forum gets started on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m., in the Sohier Room of the Beverly Public Library, Essex Street, Beverly. Our eminent founder, Jeanette Maes, will present a program about the renowned poet Donald Hall. He is an elder statesman of poetry, at this point in his life, but still active. We look forward to Jeanette’s presentation.

Fall beckons, and next month will be filled with cooler air and traditional tales of ghostly spirits. Maryanne Anderson will present a program entitled “Hauntings,” on Oct. 22.

Please see Meetings and Events tab for our plans for the following months.

End of summer now, so I will leave you with some end of summer poems.

End of Summer



An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.

I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones,
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.

Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was over.

Already the iron door of the north
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.



XXXIX (from Last Poems)

A.E. Housman

When summer’s end is nighing
And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and fortune
And all the feats I vowed
When I was young and proud.

The weathercock at sunset
Would lose the slanted ray,
And I would climb the beacon
That looked to Wales away
And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven
The hues of evening died;
Night welled through lane and hollow
And hushed the countryside,
But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall
In converse high would stand,
Late, till the west was ashen
And darkness hard at hand,
And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy
The lessening day might close,
But air of other summers
Breathed from beyond the snows,
And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not
And come no more anew;
And all the years and seasons
That ever can ensue
Must now be worse and few.

So here’s an end of roaming
On eves when autumn nighs:
The ear too fondly listens
For summer’s parting sighs,
And then the heart replies.


Meeting on Saturday


The next meeting of the North Shore Poets’ Forum is Saturday, March 21, 11 a.m. to 1ish, at the Beverly Public Library, Program Room. It is the first full day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox having officially begun the evening of March 20. So, with any luck but bad, it should be a lovely day.

The program will be led by Jeanette Maes, who will pay tribute to two poets who died recently: Philip Levine and Rod McKuen.

Save the Date

Although we did not have the annual Naomi Cherkofsky contest, we will still have a poetry reading on April 18 with an Open Mic. Please invite your poet friends to join us in our celebration of National Poetry Month.

To get you in a poetic frame of mind, here’s a little number from Seamus Heaney, who also died recently and whose birthplace, Ireland, and its patron saint, St. Patrick, are brought to mind this time of year:


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound.
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.


Winners of the Naomi Cherkofsky contest

We had a great celebration of National Poetry Month at the Beverly Public Library on Saturday, April 26. Thank you to those who came, in particular the winners of the annual Naomi Cherkofsky contest who came to read their winning entries. Thanks to those who came to listen, to share their own poetry, and to socialize. The food was delicious, the poetry was delightful, and the day was great.

Here are the winners:

1. Timothy Russell, Toronto, OH: The Next Thing I Knew

2. Barbara Blanks, Garland, TX: View From the Pilots’ Barracks

3. Mark Wacomer Stevick, Salem, MA: Cross Our Hearts.

Honorable Mentions

Note: these were not ranked.

Paulette Demers Turco, Newburyport, MA: The Limpet

Richard Samuel Davis, Byfield, MA: Where the Night Sky Can Be Seen

Gwendolyn Carr, Gloucester, MA: As the World Turns

Mark Wacomer Stevick, Salem, MA: Just Drive.

Maryellen Letarte, Lunenburg, MA: He Remembers SOS

Catherine Moran, Little Rock, AR: On the Stairs

Margaret Eckman, Swampscott, MA: Sky Diamonds

Carol Seitchik, Beverly, MA: Copake Falls, The Valley

Carol Seitchik, Beverly, MA: The Sculpture Studio

Carol Seitchik, Beverly, MA: Effluvium and the Afterlife





Why I love NSPF and why you should come to our open mic tomorrow

Massachusetts Poetry Society Jeanette Maes reads during a previous open mic event.
The illustrious leader of the Massachusetts Poetry Society Jeanette Maes.

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for the NSPF for a while now (everyone knows about the best laid plans and so forth) so here I am the night before the NSPF “big” meeting finally getting down to it.

I love the North Shore Poets’ Forum. I really do. It is one of my go-to poetry groups and every meeting is like reuniting with long lost friends. I first joined the NSPF when I was a cub reporter and only about three years out of college. Cathy O’Hare was the big “City Hall” reporter and mentor to me as I tried to figure out what being a reporter was all about. Since she mentored me on my articles I asked her one day to take a look at a poem I wrote. She praised it and invited me to come to the next meeting.

It was overwhelming but fun. I soon started attending the Massachusetts State Poetry Society meetings and the WordCrafter’s sessions (which took place in Hamilton at the time). After a few meetings, the group invited me to be the secretary. I took my role seriously crafting monthly newsletters and snail mailing meeting updates.

We enjoyed many of the same events that still take place–the regular spring outing and the annual Christmas party. But one of the highlights is the National Poetry Month open mic and Naomi Cherkofsky Contest winners’ reading which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, April 26, 11 a.m., at the Beverly Public Library.  It is a chance to throw open the doors of our little group and invite the world to join us in our love of the language and the craft of poetry.

love book
A love of language, a love of books, a love of poetry, and a love of this poetry community = blessed

Typically, we meet the third Saturday of the month and someone offers to do a little presentation on some topic or other. Over the years I have learned about Pulitzer Prize winner writers and delved into the tools of poetry coming to understand things like line break, poetic form, and imagery.

We all bring a speck of food to share and take a break to talk about our lives, about our writing, about our families before we reconvene to share our own poems and partake in a bit of gentle critique. We are a close, connected, and kind community. I love learning and sharing and helping watch my friends grow in their awareness of the wonders of poetry–just as I continue to marvel at the mysteries it unlocks.

Over the years, I have seen how specific poems have been transformed through the hard work of the poet and the loving suggestions of the group. I have grown tremendously from this feedback as well.

We NSPF members are part of a legacy of writers and friends who have been meeting since the 1960s, and sadly, many of whom have passed on. Tomorrow, we will join to congratulate the winners of the Naomi Cherkofsky Contest, named in honor of one such founding poet. Tomorrow, we will memorialize her and we will celebrate the triumph of the NSPF’s continued journey. Tomorrow, we will welcome new friends, honor those contest winners, and toast the poetry of others in our community. And yes, we will share a bite to eat.

So, these are a few of the reasons I love NSPF. I hope you can come tomorrow. I am sure you’ll love it too!