Synkroniciti is excited to announce the winner of our “Broken” poetry contest, “The Earthquake” by David Holper. We had a strong response to our “Broken” theme (another record number of submissions) and poetry was no exception. Finalists were: Sharon Kennedy-Nolle with “Soft Touch” and “Play House,” Mykki Rios with “When You Realize It’s Not Love” and “Family Scene,” Jonathan Fletcher with “Marble,” Yolanda Movsessian with “Song of the Sirens,” Stacie Eirich with “What Remains,” as well as David Holper’s winning “The Earthquake.”
Reaching from personal tragedy, an earthquake at Christmas shaking the house “like an angry dog,” David empathizes with a world full of suffering: cancer, war, train accidents, infant death and more. His “lead basketball” of grief is immense, full of current tragedies that haunt our news cycle and are yet not new to human experience. The inability to lift this weight of tragedy and sadness might make some people turn away to protect themselves, but leads David to a raw, vulnerable offering of support for his fellow humans that pierces the darkness with its sharpness. We can’t destroy loss or kill death, but we can be present with each other, even when we are frustrated and angry, and we can share our surprise and delight when goodness springs up in a place we thought was dead. This is how humans transcend grief.
We chose “The Earthquake” not only for its beautiful and moving language and imagery–a nativity scene falling from the mantle and shattering Mary and Joseph’s fragile hearts, bullets memorizing heartbeats, cancer memorizing a woman’s middle name–but for the universality and urgency of the message. David’s eloquence is matched by honesty and rawness that keep “The Earthquake” from any vestige of glibness or insincerity.
David Holper has done a little bit of everything: taxi driver, fisherman, dishwasher, bus driver, soldier, house painter, bike mechanic, bike courier, and teacher. He has published two collections of poetry, The Bridge (Sequoia Song Publications, 2019) and 64 Questions (March Street Press, 2004). His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Pilgrimage, Ruminate, Third Wednesday, First Things, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Rambler. He has recently won several poetry competitions, in spite of his contention that he never wins anything, including the Barbara Curiel Award and the Jodi Stutz Prize in Toyon, the Noctua Review poetry contest, and the Rotting Post humor competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Relief Journal. He has published about a dozen pieces of fiction in various quarterlies, including Grand Street, the New Virginia Review, and Callaloo.
David is an emeritus professor in English at College of the Redwoods and lives in Eureka, California, where he served as the inaugural Poet Laureate. He was nominated by the Eureka City Council to serve as the next Poet Laureate for the State of California. He thinks Eureka is far enough from the madness of civilization that he can still see the stars at night and hear the Canada geese calling.