The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is an annual contest is open to women writers over the age of 40 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, currently living in the U.S., who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.
The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is sponsored by the Madwomen in
the Attic Creative Writing Workshops at Carlow University. The 2014
winning poem is "Float," by Wendy Miles from Lynchburg, VA. Her
poem distinguished itself from a field of 560 poems by 219 poets
with its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk. As
winner of the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Miles will receive
$1000; a public reading in Pittsburgh with judge Yona Harvey in
spring 2015; round-trip travel and lodging for her public reading;
and publication of her winning poem in Voices from the
The honorable mentions are Donna Steiner, from Oswego, NY for
"Landscape with Ghost Train, Circa 1969;" Rosa Lane from El
Cerrito, CA for "Down I-5;" and Dee Matthews from Brookfield, MA
The entries were read by poet Yona Harvey. Of Miles' poem,
Among the compelling finalists, "Float" is the poem to which I
kept returning. The reasons to return were many: the deceptively
simple and suspenseful opening stanza; the blues-tinged flashes of
repetition; the cinematic unfolding of the poem's action; and the
curious relationship between a child and her mother. This is a poem
that details and charts its surroundings: "open door," "low sink,"
"open window," but whose destination is not predetermined. Like a
curious child, the poem comfortably follows its nose. When the poem
asserts, for instance, "[a] child is a breath," that assertion has
been preceded by a joyful deliberation. And what to make of the
mother in the second half of the poem? She animates the
objects she touches, graces them with awe, and sparks the
daughter's delight. And what of delight? The poem is filled with
An open door.
A child pauses on a step.
Her head turns, lifts to hear
her name float above the yard.
A child is an open door.
The child holds her breath
at the thought of what it means
to hook it to herself with a bright pin.
A child is a breath.
A name is a bright pin.
A low sink. An open window.
A mother leans at the low sink,
shirt off, breasts pressed to a towel.
Barely audible, Oh, she says, it feels so goodyou just can't believe it.
A daughter is an open window, a folded towel.
Shampoo the scent of ginger.
Warm water pours from a plastic cup,
spreads along the mother's pink crown,
neck, around creases at the backs of ears.
The daughter breathes in the mother.
Water dribbles from the chin,
from the daughter's fingers.
A mother is a low sink, warm water.
Animal, Animalis: to have breath.
Love is a plastic cup. Love is a breath.
A finalist for the 2013 Perugia Press Prize, Wendy Miles has
published multi-genre work in places such as Tupelo
Quarterly, Arts & Letters, Southern Poetry
Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The
Pedestal Magazine, The Chattahoochee Review,
Caesura, The Dos Passos Review, Yalobusha
Review, The Comstock Review, Hawaii Review,
Richmond Magazine, and the Anthology of Appalachian
Writers Ron Rash Volume IV. Nominated three times for a
Pushcart Prize, Miles lives and teaches in Lynchburg, Virginia. New
work is forthcoming in Alabama Literary Review.