Winner Norman Kraeft, who turned 80 in 1999, saw most of the 20th century.  His Scholaster poems, published in 1998 by Somers Rocks Press, are a brief sample of his fine work in meter and form.  Kraeft's poetic mentor is the Metaphysical poet Herbert; he may be the only poet in America who can say this with such authority, as he is both a scholar of and has modeled much of his work on Herbert.  He has written and published a vast number of poems, combining wit and craft to generate fine art.  He and his wife June were art dealers for many years, authored several books on American fine art prints, and recently moved to the southwest with enough books and artworks to fill a library and a museum.  Each year they hosted the Gazebo Festival, a gathering of poets for feast and performance; it is hoped that they may continue this at another site.  The winning poem follows:

                   Norman Kraeft

Before the last of all the lights goes out
on this millenium, join me.  Take stock
of happenings we could have done without
and those as pleasing as a hollyhock
that shared the op-ed pages, wound the clock.
This long, strong time brought waterfalls of tears
and smiles -- and seven seas of poppycock.
What have we learned as our new thousand nears?

Monday thru Sunday we still run about,
find less and even less, stable as rock,
doubt when they say, "a turtle is a trout."
Small wonder that we suffer thinker's block
as we run out of doors on which to knock.
Some say we're short today on hemispheres.
We blench when we behold what keys unlock.
What have we learned as our new thousand nears?

Milton's antagonists, same ones, without
a doubt, bat back and forth the shuttlecock
of good and evil, yes, just as devout
today as then.  Satan, the royal jock
with one ace left, sends teen-age boys to mock
the sanctity of life itself.  Air clears.
Ever -- can we recover from the shock?
What have we learned as our new thousand nears?


Wave of the future, guns for this young flock
fast-forwarding toward where they think life steers.
The old millenium soon leaves the dock.
What have we learned as our new thousand nears?

               June 3, 1999
                         Bethlehem, Connecticut