#74 – Winter 2021




Rattle Poetry Prize

Conversation with
James Pennebaker

The Winter 2021 issue features our 11 Rattle Poetry Prize winners, including the 1st prize poem, “Encephalon” by Ann Giard-Chase. The open section features the usual wide-ranging poems with humor and heart. Melissa Balmain leads the issue of with light verse looking at her own brain (literally). Other poems cover love, evolution, Robin Hood, and the DMV.

The conversation section takes an unusual turn, where psychologist James Pennebaker discusses his lifetime of research on the benefits of expressive writing. Decades ago, Pennebaker discovered that writing about traumatic experiences yields strong and measurable health benefits. His more recent research has explores the way our unconscious use of function words can reveal our psychological secrets. Though not a poet, both of these topics are very much related to contemporary poetry.



Open Poetry

Audio Available Melissa Balmain On Looking at an MRI Cross-Section
Audio Available Roberta Beary Six Haiku
Audio Available George Bilgere The Call of the Fox
Madeline Cash Sponge Cake
Audio Available Margarita Cruz Erasur
Alan Fox My Father’s Shoes
Audio Available Nancy Miller Gomez How Are We Doing?
Audio Available Still
Audio Available Tom C. Hunley If You’ve Met One Austic Person …
Audio Available Jennifer Juneau For the Girl Crying on the Steps
Audio Available Jasmine Ledesma Cataclysm
Audio Available Susan L. Lipson Sharing Wounds While Card Shopping
Audio Available William Logan Private Road
Audio Available Rachel Mallalieu 19th Nervous Breakdown
Audio Available Dave Nielsen Come Back
Audio Available Whitney Olson Jehovah Whitney
Audio Available Leticia Priebe Rocha I Hate IKEA
Alexis Rotella Another Pandemic Dream
Audio Available Kerry Rutherford Salad Shrimp
Miracle Thornton In the Kitchen
Chrys Tobey Love Poem
Audio Available William Trowbridge Robin Fool and His Disconsolate Men
Maryfrances Wagner Brandon Langford Talk Through Detention

Poetry Prize Winner

Audio Available Ann Giard-Chase Encephalon


Audio Available Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose After My Teenager Tries to Kill Herself …
Heather Bell This Is How I Make My Money
Audio Available Susan Browne Do You Have Children?
Audio Available Rayon Lennon Follow Me
Audio Available Dayna Hodge Lynch Black Boys as Fireflies
Audio Available Mary Meadows White Privilege Skydives with Black Guy in Appalachia …
Audio Available Erin Murphy The Internet of Things
Audio Available L. Renée Exodus: Gilliam Coal Camp, West Virginia, 1949
Audio Available Zella Rivas Purgatorio
Audio Available Richard Westheimer My Father Transformed by Dying


James Pennebaker (web)

Cover Art

Kelly McQuain (web)