By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 11, 2010 at 1:03 PM

The Milwaukee Poetry Contest attracted submissions from writers all over the country, and last week, judges Oody Petty, Darrick Harriell and Bobby Tanzilo picked three winners.

First Place went to Channell Ruth for her piece called "Going (Home)." Ruth receives a $50 gift certificate to Boswell Book Company for her winning poem.

"I like this poem because of the ambiguity, tone and voice, and how the details seem organic to Milwaukee," says Petty, a UWM professor. "Why a city is liked or not often depends on what is being associated. In this case, families, in a family town, splinter and get lost."

Petty, who has a doctorate in creative writing, teaches English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She served as co-editor of UWM's Cream City Review and, most recently, had her poetry published in a publication called Desire Street and

Harriell appreciated this poem because the author appears not to be a Milwaukee native.

"The poem offers an alternative and fresh perspective from a speaker who appears to be a non-Milwaukee native," says Harriell. "The language is believable and the images are clear. This slight touch of humor works well."

Harriell holds a master's of fine art from Chicago State University and is currently a dissertator in UWM's English Department where he teaches creative writing. He is the current poetry editor for the Cream City Review and he recently completed his first full-length manuscript, "Cotton."

Ed Makowski won Second Place for a short piece called, aptly, "Milwaukee" and receives a $25 gift certificate to Woodland Pattern Book Center.

"This 'little' poem embodies, in all its brevity, many elements for which Milwaukee is known: breweries, family, drinking, the working class life," says Petty.

Peter Brooks, a Wauwatosa native currently living in New Mexico, won Third Place for his piece, "Cream City."

"I believe that Milwaukee is a unique culture of hard working individualism and communal celebration.  It has its complexities, its struggles, yet there's a silent hope amongst the people to transcend, overcome, dream," says Brooks.

The Milwaukee Poetry Contest ran from Sept. 13 to Sept. 24 and invited readers to submit poems about Milwaukee. Here are the winning pieces:

Going (Home)
By Channell Ruth

For Gregory
It was where your mother lived

We would pile in the white

Lincoln Town Car for a road trip

not long enough to pack sandwiches  

Summer was a hype for cousins

too quick

to let the 6-year-old-soul go home

You would walk out side door 8604

to Stone Terrace between two lives

Your hands barely reached


After she left we would take you

to visit her

or to stay for the school year

Me, you, Grandma, Granddaddy and Jermaine

We drove past the other Magikist sign

feeling we were closer to there than here

the knowing we would leave you was quiet

You told Granddaddy once

Come get me  I wanna come home

He tried to tell you that home was Maxine

Your answer to why

I don't like Milwaukee and

Milwaukee don't like me
By Ed Makowski

        Walking in
        to begin a shift
        my two year old
        pointed to the bar
        where I work,

    >  Home."

Cream City
By Peter Brooks

Chitown’s younger sib;
accordion air for jazz wind,
lake effect and brick affect,
replace me, myself, I, with us,
ourselves, we.

Cardboard voice box factories;
this side up, blue delivery collars,
homemakers handle, played kids,
fly over ears don’t hear the hollers,
the clanks, our art.

African, German, Mexican,
Pacific Isle, Asian, Indian,
Irish, Polish, Indigenous
stocked and stewed
to our aromatic response:

I am, I be, I am, I be.