This is “Ellavis” on Halloween 2008 at ten months. She was a lot of work as a baby – but not the same kind of work I had experienced previously – at McDonald’s, where I would have a fry-basket burn woven into my arm, at a bank, at a candy shop, in the statistics department at UCSB, at a PR firm, as a teacher, and then finally, as a mother.


Seven kinds of work – the perfect amount for a crown of sonnets, which I wrote as a sort of autobiographical catalogue of my experiences with working, and called “Work.” It was the poem I read when I graduated from the MFA program at CSU Long Beach. It is also the poem I’ve had the most fun writing (so far).


Last weekend, I am in a car with four girls and a friend named Kim listening to poet Rick Lupert announce the winners of the 21st annual Poetry Superhighway poetry contest.


The contest is like no other. There are 788 poems that have been submitted. There are more prizes than participants, so everyone gets something; the poems are judged on a scoring system (0-15); it is $1 per poem entry fee; the three top poems are published on the site; and 100% of the entry fees are given as prizes to the winners.


Poet Rick Lupert organizes the contest and is a great poet himself. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990. You can find his work on the Poetry Superhighway website:


On the podcast we are listening to, Lupert is counting down the poems, and poets whose poems scored in the top ten are encouraged to call in and read them.


We are all listening intently to the poems, the rules, the scoring process, etc. until he gets to the final poem. The girls hold their breath, and when Lupert says, “from Huntington Beach, CA,” the car erupts with cheering. I don’t think any of us will ever think of poetry the same way again.  Here is a link to the podcast if you’d like to listen:


My heartfelt thanks to all the work Rick Lupert, the judges, and the sponsors put in to this contest.


You can read my autobiographical crown of sonnets here:

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