How ‘Reimagine’ rated in WD self-published competition

I entered Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 in the 18th annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Competition shortly after it was published. I submitted the book, paid the reading fee, and didn’t lose any sleep worrying about it winning a prize.

When the notification date rolled around and I didn’t hear anything, I put the competition out of mind and kept writing. In late January, I received a large envelope from WD with an evaluation and a “certificate of participation.” This was a real surprise! Normally, you receive a “thank you” letter, the list of finalists, and the name of the winner, if you’ve included an SASE with your submittal.

So how did the book do? On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), it received a 4 in each of rated category: structure and organization; grammar; and production quality and cover design.

The judge’s comments were:

“In reading his poetry, the reader seems to be introduced to Harris as both a writer and a person. The inclusion of backstories and dates of First Draft [sic] to Last Draft [sic] was something I really enjoyed (especially when I tend to view things of that nature as excessive—in this case, it worked).

“The photos included seem too small. Also, black & white was not the best quality for them, especially since Harris seems very proud of them.”

My response is:

From the beginning, I was advised against including backstories, year of origination, and year of first draft. Yet, I’ve received only thanks from readers for including these, confirming my gut feeling that the more one knows about a poet’s background, the poem’s backstory and when it was written, the better it is understood and enjoyed.

Apparently, the judge hasn’t self-published many books. Yes, the photos are too small, but they fit the format. I would have loved to have them in full color, if I could have found a printer who would print the book for a reasonable price. You bet, I’m proud of the pictures.

You bet, I’m proud of Reimagine. And I look forward to reading your book.

See Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 at

Celebrating the life of William Stafford, Poet

A dozen of us gathered before a standing-room-only crowd in the reading room at Village Books in Old Fairhaven to celebrate the life and poetry of William Stafford (1914-1993) on the evening of January 18. Some knew him as their teacher, others as a workshop leader, lecturer, or U.S. poet laureate. Most of us knew him through his poetry or his iconic attributes. Poet Jim Bertolino emceed.

 We read from his poetry and from our own that were either inspired by Stafford or the natural world that was his inspiration. I read “A Valley Like This,” a poem that is etched on signage at the Washington Pass Overlook in the North Cascades Mountains, Washington State. From mine, I read “Chak-Chak, the Skagit Bald Eagle” from Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 and unpublished “From Rockport Bridge.” Both are written about the locale just down the river from Washington Pass. See


From Rockport Bridge


I stand on Rockport Bridge,

This sunlit winter day.

My eyes follow the Skagit

Past Washington Eddy

To Eldorado’s glistening ridge.


 For a fleeting moment, I see

Snowy ridges, glacial slopes,

Alpine lakes, and hanging valleys,

Traces of ice from eons ago.


Framed by cottonwoods and purple hills,

The road edging Mount Sauk

Scribes the river,

Gently washing pebbles

Beneath a winter sky.


Travelers pass me

In eagle search,

Skimming the view—

A ferry barge,

A cedar canoe,

Our log cabin—

Artifacts of my youth.


These incidental visitors

Will never hear eagles call,

See black bear fish,

Trout rise to the fly,

Witness stars outshining the night—

All that I see from Rockport Bridge.

                   Rockport, Washington, (1994)