Jun 062011

Large numbers of supporters waited outside dg's house for the formal announcement this morning

At long last the People have spoken, two winners have emerged, both co-equal in the esteem of public and peers, whose vision is ever wise, democratic and mysteriously accurate (on the other hand, dg has been known to have counted the votes inaccurately). The voting was close, and several villanelles came in for exuberant praise from their supporters. Some people voted so many times it was difficult to keep count. But this year’s winners are Lynne Quarmby for her science villanelle “Antonj van Leeuwenhoek” and Kim Aubrey for her “Canadian Shield, or a middle-aged woman’s thoughts turn to the cottage.” May they wear their crowns with appropriate dignity and pride as befitting winners of one of North American’s most prestigious literary prizes (winners are expected to wear their crowns, without fail, for a whole year, even in the shower; they are also required to appear at promotional events for Numéro Cinq at their own expense and appear in public wearing sandwich boards advertising the magazine and various licensed products including our line of Blue Dog figurines, our High School Essays Tailored For You subsidiary, and the ever popular Gary Garvin ballroom dancing instructional CD).

Count the votes for yourselves here. Discrepancies will be rigorously investigated and illegalities or miscounts will be prosecuted to the extent of the law.

View the complete entry list here.

Read the winning villanelles below.



Antonj van Leeuwenhoek

By Lynne Quarmby


Under a lens and good light
the draper viewed threads of linen and wool
Such wonders he brought to sight

Tartar from teeth whet his appetite
for microbes that wiggle and swim
under a lens and good light

In a vial of pond scum was much to delight
Spirogyra! Volvox! Vorticella!
such wonders he brought to sight

Dissections and diagrams, yes Antonj was bright
Fleas have fleas he discovered
under a lens and good light

In pulsing blood flowed the erythrocyte
Add rainwater – see them explode!
such wonders he brought to sight.

Shivers and shudders for one parasite
Yes, it was he discovered the spermatocyte
under a lens and good light
such wonders he brought to sight


Canadian Shield,

or A middle-aged woman’s thoughts turn to the cottage

By Kim Aubrey


In spring I long for an outcropping of rock,
pink and gray granite sparked with quartz, stroked with moss
and an eager puppy leaping off the dock.

To brave the cool lake, cast off shoes and socks,
rest against sun-warmed boards, forget winter’s dross,
in spring I long for an outcropping of rock

where lichens and leafy liverwort run amok
cushion and tickle bear cubs’ curious paws,
while an eager puppy leaps from the dock,

paddles out to chase a sprawling flock
of geese that flap and honk their way across.
In spring I long for an outcropping of rock.

Overhead turkey vultures tilt with a hawk,
guard their new-laid nest from potential loss.
Below, an eager puppy jumps off the dock.

To tramp through the woods on a long longed-for walk,
touch the rough bark of pines, their fresh green floss,
in spring I long for an outcropping of rock
and a sleepy puppy curled up on the dock.

  12 Responses to “The Second Annual Numéro Cinq Villanelle Contest–The People’s Choice Winner”

  1. Congratulations to Lynne, and to Kim (soon to be an Assistant Fiction Editor for upstreet)!

    • Thanks, Vivian! And thanks to the People who made this possible:)
      I’ll feel honoured to wear the NC sandwich board, but the crown in the shower is a bit much. How will I wash my hair?

  2. Congrats, Lynne! It’s an honour to share the crown with you!

    • Thanks Vivian and Kim (and the voting public).

      I know that Antonj would be thrilled that the people liked his poem. There is a paucity of science villanelles in the world – actually, I don’t know of a form that is particularly strong when it comes to science. I’ve decided to start collecting them. If any of you has a science poem to share, I’d love to see it.

      I think that the sandwich board and crown will look absolutely fabulous with my Antonj van Leeuwenhoek costume.

    • And with you. I savoured a visit to your cottage over coffee and toast this morning. Ahhh.

  3. How do I sign up for ballroom dancing?

  4. Congratulations ladies, richly deserved!!!!

  5. Kudos to Lynne and Kim, and especially to the muses: spirogyra, volvox, vorticella, and puppies!
    I truly enjoyed both these poems and am delighted to see them in the spotlight.
    The people, the masses, have spoken with such truth and light.

  6. Thanks Anna Maria. I whole-heartedly agree – a toast to the muses of all of the entries: spices and puppies, algae and laundry, tomatoes, limes, writers and bourbon (amazingly not in the same villanelle), bees and blooms, Mr. Hitchens and scripture (under represented in the voting, but sublime), phylum chordata (what a muse!), puppies and children, Henri Matisse, art and song, and finally, the birth of Little Bull. A toast to Little Bull.

  7. Vidia Naipaul be damned! Congrats writers! The Talisker flasks are being etched and prepared as we speak.

  8. Thanks, everyone! And thanks to dg for encouraging us to use traditional forms! The challenge is lots of fun and I love seeing how the container influences content. Everyone wrote such wonderful villanelles!

  9. Congratulations, both. Kim, I didn’t see your crown today. What gives? And the Waterfront Craft Fair would have been an appropriate venue for the sandwich boards.

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