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Love poem to Madison contest winners

608today readers, like us, have a soft spot for our city.

A pink book of love poems atop an opened book of Shakespearean sonnets with hand cut hearts here and there.jpg

Madison’s poets have penned odes to the city. | Photo by 608today

We recently invited local poets to enter our “Love Poem to Madison” poetry contest. We’re pleased to present the winner and the finalists.

Congratulations to Cynthia Dorfman, the winner of this year’s contest. She’ll receive a $50 gift card to Six and Main.

With 12 poems submitted, Dorfman’s was chosen based on its originality and her entry, we felt, best captured the essence of the 608.


Cynthia Dorfman’s untitled poem:

They float, the birch bark canoes and sandhill cranes,
through land and air and lake, moving in grace
in the wake of limnologists, lyricists and luminaries
at the shores of learning. Floating Forward from the hub
of Madison, holding spokes of pens for signers
of the Constitution. Their nibs pointing in the direction
of the paint-washed ghost sign for the Hotel Fess
and sidewalks stamped with poems on Williamson.
Madison under the moon glow of dome
echoing effigy mounds marking origins
of civilization. Followed by Yankees blown
across the Lake Effect of exploration
when floating boats steamed across ice-crackings
of lakes. That quartet of lakes now chants odes
to the chamber of law-crafting. And strains
from The Overture accompany the Reveille
of coronet calls from the sandhill cranes
and base notes from birch bark canoes floating.


Sierra White’s poem, “Love, Madison":

We drove in with east coast attitudes and west coast expectations
My CR-V packed to the brim,
goldendoodle and all,
welcoming our new adventure in the middle of the country

The July Sun was highlighting the capitol
with Monona and Mendota glistening as kayakers split the water’s waves
It feels like the entire town is outside, eagerly absorbing the warmth
Everyone is walking or running or biking
coffee or pets or kids in tow,
sometimes all three,
blissfully unaware of how rare such community spaces are in the rest of the world

Locals welcomed us with their Midwest cadence and thoughtful small talk
Soon we were regulars at Bradbury’s
familiar faces at Batch
friendly waves on the bike path into Atwood,
smiling over cocktails at Mint Mark
or the date night special at Grampa’s
cheering on the ‘mingos at Bresse

Our neighbors share their basil with us
Our friends bring dessert whenever we host dinner
Our family eagerly visits every opportunity they get
a little haven that everyone would move to
if they knew such a place existed
our forever home

Teresa R.'s poem, “Meeting vs. Knowing: Love Poem from a Local":

I met you at the edge of summer.
The days were warm, and the night air cool.
The Farmers’ Market still buzzed
with people,
and wildflowers,
and honey and bread.
I met you before the Arboretum leaves turned golden brown,
before Lake Mendota and Lake Monona froze over,
before we searched for warm places to escape the snow
and sleepy gray rain...
and came to know one another.
Before it was summer again.

Karen Polnitz’s poem, “Finding Home on Four Lakes":

Thank you for those
Blooms you planted
Beckons of belonging
In this city of Four Lakes

Here they plant pink petals
and there’s a new friend
at every park

We arrived on
One of those Thursdays
Fresh inches covered the earth
Wonder falling silently
Like dancing in a dream

A neighbor had already shoveled the walk
Brought us homemade soup
Y pan dulce
Welcomed our child
As we began to learn the names

Falling in love was
Strolling that street
With rainbows in all the windows
Reminders of our worth
In statues that look like us

Finding home was
All our neighbors
Put rainbows in the windows too
All the streets have the music
Of people on the pulse

Jazz cafes and bookstore bars
Creative brews for crafting change
Delta paths and secret forests
Quiet spots to rest and watch
And everywhere a welcome

Thank you for those
Blooms you’re planting
Your messages of love
What a beautiful life
In this city of Four Lakes

Nathan Knitt’s poem, “Marvelous Madison”

She looks upon Lake Monona from her marble tower
“Forward” she cries to her daughters and sons
The of being a Madisonian fills them with power
To excel in work, study, and play

What really sets Madison apart from the rest
Is for folks to find a sense of belonging
The community, its people are simply the best
Everyone is welcome here

There is a time and season for everyone here
Autumn strolls through the Arb
Finding friends and a seat at the Terrace to drink a beer
Or praying for more snow to cross country ski

Whatever your walk of life
You’ll find caring people in Madison
Ready to help you through toils and strife
Everyone can find success here

Together we move, always, Forward

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