by Paul Haeder and Michael Bowen & r & As the number and variety of poems entered in The Inlander's In Celebration of Trees contest attest, poetry and tree reverence are alive and well in the Inland Northwest. Poetry is the shape of that internal well of spiritual and metaphysical language. The poems in this year's contest reflect a verbal benediction to the authors' connections to trees. Highlighting backyard tree houses, the grand old cottonwoods near a bedroom or a lone maple shading a gravestone, the poets in this year's contest drive home through lyrical play that trees are indeed important. Celebrating anything -- family, emotions, urbanity or the myriad of common beauty in nature -- is a good thing. It is clear that the Inland Northwest has a multitude of public and closet poets who all connect to the lament of trees -- how personal journeys and life's cacophony of tribulations are measured somehow by a personal tree.

After the devastation of Hiroshima, a week after tens of thousands had lost their lives, the surviving Japanese found a lone elm tree budding. The tree symbolized tenacity, hope and a kind of surreal invocation by nature to have humankind heed the simple things in nature. This year's contest entrants have joined that long tradition of attempting to comprehend "the enormity of things" through the simple stroke of light and words. & align= "right " & -- Paul Haeder & lt;/p &

In the poetry category, we received 68 poems by 44 poets. We selected four Distinguished Poems, one Best Short Poem, one Best Child's Poem and three Honorable Mention poems. Our poetry judges were Paul Haeder and Michael Bowen.

Paul Haeder has taught creative writing at UTEP and presently teaches at SCC, SFCC and the Institute for Extended Learning. He has published stories and poems in literary journals, including The William and Mary Review, and last December, his story "Bird Stamp" won The Inlander's ninth annual Fiction Contest.

Michael Bowen is a staff writer for The Inlander. He has a Ph.D. in English but still has a lot to learn about poetry.

When we judged the poetry, we paid attention to diction, imagery, metaphors and the poem's shape on the page. As a rule, poems that avoided starting with a preconceived generalization --instead progressing from well-observed particulars to some sort of attitude-altering philosophical stance -- seemed the most impressive to us.

On the photography side, we reviewed 145 photographs by 35 different photographers. We chose six photos by four photographers as the best of the bunch. Our judges were Joe Preston and Pat Kennedy.

Joe Preston is the just-departed art director for The Inlander -- he'll soon be attending the Art Institute of Portland to pursue a degree in graphic design.

Pat Kennedy, a graduate of the photography program at SFCC, is a freelance photographer for The Inlander. An avid outdoorsman, he shoots a lot for skiing and snowboarding resorts and publications.

Criteria for the photography contest included composition, exposure, originality and technical difficulty. & align= "right " & -- Michael Bowen & lt;/p &

To peruse the photograph entries pick up a print copy of the paper at a local distribution point!

Summer Parkways @ South Hill

Through June 20
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