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The Winner: George Miller's Poem About a Special Boat

On a steamy Sunday at Bayside HIstory Museum in North Beach, New Bay Books announced the winner of New Bay Books' Inaugural Writers on the Water competition, which triggered a surge in the region of elegant poetry and flash.

Seventy-five literature-loving people crowded into North Beach's jewel of a museum to hear authors read from newly published books and toot approval (literally) when three finalists were named.

George Miller, whose poem, Flat Bottoms, God Bless'em, was lavished with judges' praise, took the top spot — and the prize of a $100 bill. Miller, formerly of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, likely will know what to do with his winnings.

Also named as finalists by New Bay Books' four-judge panel were Hiram Larew. like Miller a well-known poet of the region; and Susan Nolan, a contributor at Bay Weekly newspaper and a journal devotee who recently started recording childhood memories.

The finalists read their works: Miller's evocative verse; Hiram Larew's "Scripture," an ode to love; and Nolan"s flash about discovering danger on a bridge with her father.

"We were heartened by how many pieces came to us, quite an outpouring of talent," said Sandra Olivetti Martin, publisher at New Bay Books and one of four judges.

Also on the panel were two of Sunday's featured authors — Mark McCaig and Ruth Ticktin — and New Bay Books intern Felix Tower, a student at St. Johns College who is doing her fall semester at the college's Santa Fe campus.

Finalists Hiram Larew and Susan Nolan.

In the featured portion of the afternoon, Ticktin, of Washington and North Beach, a teacher of creative writing and English as a second language, read from her new book, Was Am Going. Ruth says she writes to help make sense of the world around her and share what she sees with others.

Kate Lassman, from Waldorf, a cat-loving teacher of English at College of Southern Maryland, read from her first book, Dawn Anyway, a set of poems described by a reviewer as "radiant and sincere in the moments they capture and inscribe."

McCaig, of Fairhaven, co-founder of the Fairhaven School in Prince Georges County, read fiction shorts from Jellyfish, his latest book, which one discerning reader called "a beautiful collection by a prose poet of the highest order."

With permission of the author, here is George Miller's poem, Flat Bottoms, God Bless'em.

My brother,

hand on the tiller, eyes on the river,

threads his skiff through blue-gray sandbars

Master of tides snaking

curlicue channels into the marsh,

slithering back to the broad water

Captain of flat bottoms,

dredging shallows

for oysters

Lord of brackish waters,

jellyfish, snapping turtles, muskrats

By the mercies of the river,

may his catch be bountiful,

his channel wide,

his keel steady

Twenty-five more poets and flash writers joined the competition: Mick Blackistone, David Brashears, Katie Brewster, Randy Bridgeman, Barry Carter, Jane Elkin, Diana Feldkamp, Lisa Friedman, Noah Hale, Rick Herndon, Christine Hickey, Doug Hile, Robert Kyle, Kevin Luckman, Aly Lynch, Barbara Malloy, Andrew McDowell, Carol Russell, Janice Lynch Schuster, Bill Sells, Michelle Sholund, John Tobi and Valerie Watson.

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