2-Day Poem Contest Winners!

☀️ We’re thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s CV2 2-Day Poem Contest, as selected by our judge (and last year’s winner) Alexander Hollenberg; our editors; our contest captain Yelani Peiris’s mom; and you! ☀️

These poets crafted some stunning poems over the course of 48 hours, using a dastardly ten-word list, and you’ll get to read all of them in our fall 2024 issue!

Read on to hear what judge Alexander Hollenberg had to say about the first, second, and third place winners, and be sure to join us next spring for the 2024 2-Day Poem Contest! ☀️

First Place: “After We Marry and Head West” by Hollie Adams

Second Place: “The Legacy Dam” by Jenna Butler

Third Place: “This Counterfeit Year” by Medrie Purdham

Editor’s Choice: “Pickle Jar Love Poem” by Sarah Wishloff

Editor’s Mom’s Choice: “Last Father’s Day” by Carmen Wall

People’s Choice: “Logical Reasoning” by Jade Y. Liu


“After We Marry And Head West”

“The pace of this poem is striking. It gallops. And then it lassos us. The concision of its lines—each like a hard, powerful stride in a hard, powerful life—demonstrates a remarkable, sophisticated attention to form and function. Brilliantly, the poet has crafted a Western that is both comfortable in its own pin-prick flowered clothes but also adds something new to the genre without feeling pressure to wholly subvert it. Every word, every phrase here is deliberate and sings with the possibilities of meaning: “watch me /pioneer this excuse for a broom / across the floor,” or “axes and rifles that un-lady / my arms.” This language does what poetry at its best is supposed to do: it makes the world a bit unfamiliar, makes us look again, makes us grin at the life- affirming possibilities of art. Every line of this poem makes me want to keep reading, and when I get to the end—the gut-punch, just-leave-the-bottle-end—all I want to do is read it again.”


“the legacy dam”

“This poem is three things at once: an intricate, studied portrait of an ecosystem; a despairing testimony to human arrogance; and, an inspiring exemplar of human craft. Read this poem out loud. You’ll think you’re hearing magic in the way its sounds echo, reverberate, repeat, but I promise you it’s not magic. It’s a poet who knows their medium well and who knows all the things language can do: “the rich riverine broth / spadderdock’s bright lanterns / held aloft across the bog.” Lines like these make me want to pack up, tramp out, and sit on the banks of a river, just to listen. Lines like these possess the quality of quiet, thoughtful attention that we might look for in all our poetry.”


“This Counterfeit Year”

“In a year that’s brought us the plagiarism-machines of AI, this poem laments the snowballing losses of authenticity in even the most private spaces. The speaker implores her child not to speak in memes, she only “pretends” to be a wife, and as she remembers an incident from her past, she reminds herself, “It must have happened,” which suggests maybe it didn’t. The shrewd complexity of this poem is that it doesn’t simply find solace in the real; rather, it questions the slow creep of the counterfeit into all aspects of the speaker’s life—even those that feel the most real, concrete. For me, whatever solace there is exists in the poet’s careful, creative patterning of language and line: “If there’s a soundtrack to this life, please let it be done / on instruments people breathe into.” I haven’t heard a more eloquent plea for the humanity of art in a long time.”

– Alexander Hollenberg, Contest Judge