The Black Diamond Award for Excellence of Craft

Please, click on Chrome Waves’ “Blackbird,”* then scroll down to view The Black Diamond Award for Excellence of Craft.

The Black Diamond Award for Excellence of Craft is the honorary Grand Prize bestowed upon the poem judged to exhibit the greatest technical merit among those included in The Midnight on the Stroll Slideshow.  And, the winner is. . .

Wanda Morrrow Clevenger’s “corsage” receives The Black Diamond Award for its precise, surprising, and evocative phrasing–e.g. “knot of men,” “vie for her attendance,”  “flower wrist tattoo”– coupled with its use of alliteration throughout.  The hissing “s’s,”” stuttering “t’s,” and rolling “r’s” in the opening line are especially noteworthy for how they convey an onomatopoeia-like unity of sound and sense–i.e. “in the S-T-R-ee-T-ligh-T  S-pa-TT-eR/”

Moreover, “corsage” receives this award for its balanced structure.  The two free-verse stanzas of which the piece is composed function much like a well-turned volta in a sonnet.  Herein, the first triplet outlines a young woman’s present predicament, while the second triplet provides “the turn,” offering retrospective insight into earlier, related life events.  Meanwhile, the absence of standard grammatical devices serve to accentuate the poem’s structure, and moreover, lay bare its lyrical flow as much for the eye as for the ear.

Finally, “corsage” receives the Black Diamond monicker for its deftly handled enjambment, so key to the aforementioned structure and its effectiveness.  Though attentive throughout to a reader’s sense of anticipation regarding what the next line will bring, the enjambment employed by the poet in the penultimate line displays acute sensitivity.  For, it is here, at this all important point of hesitation, that Clevenger commences to stitch tight an ironic, yet poignant thread connecting her subject’s troubled past and present through the use of telling cultural symbolism.  Examining the second, concluding stanza as a whole:

a flower wrist tattoo/               [here it comes, get ready. . .]

makes up for/                          [for what?–]

missed prom corsage               [ahhhh. . .Bravo!]

Honed and pared to a mere 22 words, Wanda Morrow Clevenger’s “corsage” exemplifies how a well-developed personal style, a heightened sense of empathy, and a subtractive approach to composition can combine to create dark, meaningful, tightly wrought poetry.  As such, “corsage” is deemed by Midnight Lane Gallery / The Curtained Room to be a black diamond, indeed; one worthy of both detailed attention and appreciation. . .

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Deepest thanks go to Wanda and to all of the poets who participated in The Midnight on the Stroll Poetry Contest. 

A link to Midnight Lane Gallery’s new sister-site, Midnight Lane Boutique, follows the credits below.  Whether you are a current participant or simply an attendee of MLG, please do consider submitting work to the new site.


Johnny Longfellow, Curator

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  • Music / Video:

Chrome Waves: “Blackbird” appears on Chrome Waves’ 2012 self-titled EP, released by Gravedancer Records.  To learn more about the band, visit their Facebook page, or visit CVLT NATION to stream the full EP and read a review.**

  • Poetry:

Wanda Morrow Clevenger:  A preview of Wanda’s poetry, memoir, and short fiction collection, This Small Town in Each of Us,is available via Edgar & Lenore Publishing.  Visit her site to learn more about ordering this collection.  And, be sure to also visit her blog, It’s All Just Telling Tales Out of School, to read more of this widely pubished and prolific author’s work.  To contact Wanda, email:

Note: Midnight Lane Gallery / The Curtained Room accepts First Rights.  All other rights return to poet upon publication.

  • Visual Art:

 Yours Truly: Please contact Midnight Lane Gallery if seeking to use an image or images from the “Midnight on the Stroll Poetry Contest,” either virtually or in print.  Contact information is included at the bottom of the gallery’s About page.


**Added Credit goes to A Museical Enterprise for uploading “Blackbird,” by Chrome Waves, to YouTube.  Midnight Lane Gallery claims no copyright over music posted on site.

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