2011 Rattle Poetry Prize Winner

Hayden Saunier

Hayden Saunier
Doylestown, PA
The One and the Other

For the first time in 2011 the Rattle Poetry Prize winner was selected from 15 finalists by subscriber vote. To prevent ballot-stuffing, only those with subscriptions prior to the announcement of the finalists were eligible. Of roughly 3,000 possible voters, 680 cast ballots, and Saunier’s poem earned 14.4%. Here is what some of those readers had to say about their choice:

“In one sparse page, Hayden Saunier has let three nameless, wordless, ordinary people stir up in the rest of us a tart chaos of generosity, cheer, despair, shock, regret, and respect. I am deeply impressed by the skill with which she did that.”
–Anne Ward Jamieson

“I choose ‘The One and the Other’ by Hayden Saunier because of its telling details, its form (in contrast to the awful, out-of-order scene the child finds), its use of sound, including the irregular rhymes, and the fact it is one sentence, cascading downward to that placement of the cake. This is a poem that stays with me.”
–Mary Makofske

“It was a difficult choice, but ultimately the images of the boy with his lemon-glazed cake and the woman hanging from her chandelier refuse to leave me alone. The (relentless) repetition of the phrase ‘too late’ adds to the urgency/tragedy, and details like the boy ‘on tiptoes, avoiding the cracks’, are heartbreaking.”
–Sudasi Clement

“I vote for Hayden Saunier. What an ending! Wonderful that you guys have a prize like this.”
–Chase Twichell

“You know a poem is a winner when it makes you read and re-read it again and again and each time, you say ‘wow’!”
–Lynne Thompson

To read the poem, pick up a copy of Rattle #36, or wait to read it in our free supplemental e-issue this spring (e.12). We’ll be reprinting the winning poem, along with our summary of the contest, our thoughts on the format and results, and more commentary from the voting subscribers.

Saunier’s “The One and the Other” was the clear winner, but all 15 of the finalist poems received a significant number of votes, and each had their own enthusiastic fans. No one received less than 4.5% — 1 in 23 readers would have selected any of the poems a winner. That’s a testament to both the subjective nature of poetic experience, and the quality of all 15 finalists.


The Other Finalists


Pia Aliperti
Atlanta, GA

Tony Barnstone
Whittier, CA
Why I Am Not a Carpenter

Kim Dower
Los Angeles, CA
Why People Really Have Dogs

Courtney Kampa
Oak Hill, VA
Self-Portrait by Someone Else

Portland, OR
To a Husband, Saved by Death at 48

Andrew Nurkin
Highstown, NJ
The Noises Poetry Makes

Charlotte Pence
Knoxville, TN
Perfectly Whatever

Laura Read
Spokane, WA
What the Body Does

Diane Seuss
Kalamazoo, MI
What Is at the Heart of It…

Craig van Rooyen
San Luis Obispo, CA
The Minstrel Cycle

Jeff Vande Zande
Midland, MI
The Don’ts (An Incomplete List)

Bryan Walpert
Palmerston, New Zealand
Objective Correlative

Anna Lowe Weber
Altoona, PA
Spring Break 2011

Maya Jewell Zeller
Spokane, WA