POET LAUREATE 2001 Edition
© 2001 Sol Magazine


by Craig Tigerman, Lead Editor

This is Sol Magazine's Fourth Annual Poet Laureate Competition.  You might ask, why do this year after year?  Why invite poets to enter into this fast-paced multi-tiered deluxe competition?  Why choose a single winner on whom to bestow the title of Sol Magazine's Poet Laureate?

First, it's fun and exciting.  We love to see how the sifting process leaves the finest for last, and we celebrate the winner when the competition is over.

Second, it is our way to celebrate the art of poetry in a special way.  By issuing invitations to this intensive annual contest, we attempt to honor poetry itself by giving our poets an opportunity to reach for ever-higher levels of creativity.

Finally, we do this to celebrate all our poets.  By honoring one poet as Sol Magazine's Poet Laureate, we seek to share the universal vision of all poets, to bring beauty and wisdom into all our lives, our culture, our world. 

This year's contest brought forth some stunningly imaginative, expressive and beautiful entries.  Why should we do this year after year?  So we may continue to be inspired by the best of our best, and share that inspiration with our readers.

Lois Lay Castiglioni
Lois Lay Castiglioni

Our new Poet Laureate's writing is rich with emotion, yet delicate in imagery.  Her poetry speaks of everyday things so many of us never stop to notice.  With her deep feeling for and love of the poetically spoken word, she wreathes the mundane with garlands, bringing out the hidden beauty and tenderness.  Her willingness to lay her heart bare is what enriches her poetry, and her true love of nature echoes in her award-winning haiku.  Her ability to see something, a split second occurrence, and freeze it into just a handful of lines is keen - yet, at the same time, she is able to bring so much more to the experience and ensure the reader not only sees it, but feels it as well.  She speaks to the heart's eye.

We hope you enjoy reading this interview with Sol Magazine's Poet Laureate 2001.

The Seeds of Poetry
An Interview with Lois Lay Castiglioni
by Paula Marie Bentley, Assistant Editor

The driving force in writing is the joy of creating.  Ideas spring up and nag me until I put them on paper.  Many are like intertwining word puzzles and sorting them out is delightful.

It's important to instill a love of poetry in children early in life.  Before I started to school, mother taught me nursery rhymes.  After I mastered all the Mother Goose verses, she moved on to Tennyson, Longfellow and Kipling's L'Envoi. The seeds she planted seventy years ago continue to grow and I've never been without a book of poems by my bedside.

My first thoughts on learning I was Sol's newest Poet Laureate, were of our neighbor in Calhoun, Earnest Neal, Poet Laureate of Georgia, 1927 to 1943.  I grew up listening to lines from his poems.  "Nestled among mountains sparkling with fountains beautiful city Calhoun," echoed in my mind.  An image of Mr. Neal with snow-white hair rocking on his porch, pen in hand, flashed before me when I saw on the computer, "You are our newest Poet Laureate." 

My son and I wrote our first poem together five years ago, "The Dog and the Shoe."  Soon after, I heard of the Galveston Poets Roundtable and took the poem in for review.  Joining [the Galveston Poets Roundtable] and participating in Sol Magazine opened a magic window in my life.  Peering through, I found the happiness of writing.

My sister, brother, and I plan to publish a small book of poems, and  include works of our relatives who share the poetry-gene.  "The Dog and the Shoe" will have a prominent place in the Hall/Lay Book. 

Poems by Lois Lay Castiglioni:

The Furies 

Beachcombers scatter when they see
The storm Furies riding bareback
On herds of wild stallions
Galloping toward the shore
Tossing tangled manes of white foam

Free Flight 

In midsummer dreams I can fly
Over the beach and across the sky
Visit the living and talk with the dead.
Freed from all worries and despair
We glide together without a care. 


Lois Lay Castiglioni, a retired dietitian, lives in Galveston, Texas.  She is a member of Galveston Poetry Round Table and is published in Lucidity Magazine, Tidelines II and Sol Magazine.  In her words, "I enjoy writing poetry.  It gives me the opportunity to record the lyrical sights and sounds of life, and save humorous thoughts that bubble up."

Lynette Bowen
Lynette Bowen

Lynette has been published in Sol Magazine, The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake (TAACCL) and in University of Houston Clear Lake's Bayousphere.  Originally from Michigan, Lynette grew up in Southern California, graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Ok, with a degree in English Literature.  For ten years, she lived in the shadow of the Cascades in Washington State.  When Lynette finally came to Houston, Texas, she found she enjoyed the steamy, sultry southern beauty of the area.  When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, working in various artistic mediums, singing, participating in an ecumenical nature-based spiritual community.  She works as a technical writer/administrator at the Johnson Space Center for a safety panel.  In her words, "One reason I write poetry is because it is one of the ways my soul manifests within form."

Maryann Hazen-Stearns
Maryann Hazen-Stearns

Maryann Hazen-Stearns enjoys working as a Poetry Editor, Poetry Judge, CMT, wife and mom. She is an active member of The Alchemy Poetry Club, the Catskill Reading Society, the Woodstock Poetry Society, Poets & Writers, and the Writer's Village University.

Mary recently completed her first hard-copy, full length book of poetry, "Under the Limbo Stick."   She has been published internationally in hundreds of magazines and anthologies in electronic and hard copy format and has also won many awards and contests.  She is the recipient of the "Silver Rose Award for Poetic Achievement."

She enjoys Renaissance Faires, birdhouses, her pet Chihuahua and hamster, as well as reading. Other hobbies include needlework and flower gardening.  She has an awesome tin collection and avoids the kitchen as much as possible without starving.

SuzAnne C. Cole
SuzAnne C. Cole

SuzAnne C. Cole graduated from Tulsa University (B.A., English) and Stanford University (M.A., English literature, Woodrow Wilson Fellow) and taught English at community colleges for many years. SuzAnne is published in anthologies such as Animal Blessings, Get Well Wishes, Bless the Day, GRRRRR, Family Celebrations, and Mothers and Daughters; E-Zines and magazines, including Sol Magazine, Radiance, Reunion, Piedmont LR, Potpourri, Parnassus LR, Apples and Oranges, Rag Mag, ProCreation, Lynx, and RiverSedge.  Last year a poem was featured in Dear Abby's Mother's Day column; in l999 she won a Writer's Digest Personal Poetry contest and a Japanese haiku festival.  SuzAnne's book, "To Our Heart's Content: Meditations for Women Turning 50," was published in l997.  In her words, "I write poetry because sometimes it's the only way to say what my spirit feels."
Poet Laureate Musings
by Paula Marie Bentley, Assistant Editor

Why do we write?  It's a question we've all asked ourselves time and again, and a question that surely defies any specific answer.  Multifaceted as the most brilliant diamond, poetry shines in our world like a beacon - an indication that there are, and always will be, souls who revel in the beauty of self-expression and community with other kindred spirits.

Each year, Sol brings forth a new Poet Laureate.  The selection process is arduous, the poetry often stunning.  Judges are left speechless, trying to decide, knowing the fate of the winner perhaps hangs on their vote, their comment, their thought.  In the end, we all come together joyously to celebrate the expression of poetry as it should be, as it can be, and as it is through this contest.

Poetry speaks deeply and truthfully.  It lays the soul bare in ways nothing else can.  In its very brevity, our final haiku contest revealed much more than it concealed, and truly embodied the spirit of the Poet Laureate as well as of poetry itself.  We celebrate this time well-spent working toward finding the one shining crown among so many sparkling tiaras, the one person whom we spirit away and title Poet Laureate.  But to do this is not to say less of the others - indeed, it is never easy to choose, and this year was perhaps the most difficult.  Gems shine no less for having one that is slightly elevated above them - indeed, their combined beauty and sparkle blind the eye, and bring a song to one's lips.

Poetry is meant to be shared, and only by sharing can we all bring one another to new heights, day after day.  To those who participated, the Poet Laureate judging staff thanks you.  To those who helped bring it to the height it is now, the poetry world thanks you.  Never stop sparkling, never stop shining - your light only intensifies the beauty that is Poetry.


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© 2001 Sol Magazine