Fiametta Grows Old

Peter LaBerge was this year’s Emma Gray Trigg Memorial winner. His winning poem, “Makeshift Cathedral,” is not available to us, however, as it is slated for publication in the Winter 2017 issue of Pleiades. Here’s what Peter has to say about it:

“Makeshift Cathedral” is the title poem of my second chapbook manuscript, forthcoming from YesYes books. As a whole, the project aims to create a space of memoriam for individuals across the spectrum of gender and sexual identities who have been failed by the justice system and law enforcement. 

So when the time comes, please check out the Winter 2017 Pleiades. And turn back a couple of categories, to the 2016 Honoring Fatherhood Award, to see another fine example of Peter’s work. Meanwhile, since we don’t have a poem by judge Brian Henry either, here is a 1928 sonnet by the writer in whose honor the Emma Gray Trigg Memorial is awarded.



I’ll burn no candles and I’ll tell no beads.
The gentle saints must let me go my way.
For happy sinners who forget to pray
And weep, perhaps there’s one who intercedes,
And says, “She keeps her garden free of weeds;
And quiet children with gray eyes may find
Their way among her asters, she’ll not mind.
The larkspur sheds blue tears, the poppy bleeds
Red petals, columbine droops low in prayer–
All doing penance for her sins. She lives
Without remorse or memories, and gives
Herself with joy to flowers. No man enters there…
She wants none but the wind’s kiss on her brow,
Dear God, let her have done with lovers now!

Emma Gray Trigg,
from The Lyric, Volume Eight, Number Seven, July 1928

EMMA GRAY TRIGG (1890-1976) was a musician, and a prime mover in the Virginia classical music scene, as well as being a widely published poet. She was a very early member of the Poetry Society of Virginia, and served as our seventh president. Until about 1935, society headquarters were maintained in her native city of Norfolk, where founding member John R. Moreland had previously established, in 1921, a journal called The Lyric. (According to Wikipedia and the journal’s website, this is “the oldest extant literary magazine in North America devoted to formal poetry.”) A few early issues of The Lyric are stored in the society archives—which is where I found the Emma Gray Trigg lyric that appears above.

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