Poets, Friends of Poets, Fans of Poetry. . . .
On Sunday, June 26, 2011, a hand-carved chair will be ceremonially awarded, along with
a cash prize, to the victor in a bardic competition at the Fifth Annual Cambria Eisteddfod
at Morgan Creek Vineyards, located near the town of Cambria (between Mankato and New
Ulm, just off Highway 68). Each year, poets submit manuscripts to a panel of judges, who
select five finalists to compete in oral presentations of their work. The judges then select a
winner, who is ceremonially seated on the hand-carved oak chair and formally inducted as
a bard. The event includes an afternoon music (contemporary and traditional Celtic tunes),
recitations by other poets, and opportunities for winery tours and wine-tastings. Food from
the winery's oven is also available, but you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch. Poetry
books will also be offered for sale. If you have Celtic garb, by all means dress up.
This family-oriented activity raises funds to support the Blue Earth County Historical
Society's efforts to keep alive the ethnic heritage of the area, which was settled by Welsh
immigrants who began to arrive in the mid-1800's, bringing with them the tradition of
competitions in music and poetry, always culminating in the awarding of a bardic chair.
The word "eisteddfod" means "chairing" in the Welsh language, but similar events have
been traditionally held in all of the Celtic countries, and in many other locales world-
wide. We call the Blue Earth County event a Pan-Celtic Eisteddfod, honoring not only
the Welsh heritage, but also the Scottish and Irish immigrant traditions. This year's
competition has an Independence Day theme (at least one of the poems in each entrant's
submission must relate to that theme), and the winner's Independence Day poem will
also be publicly presented at Cambria's July Fourth celebration.
Other sponsorship is supplied by Morgan Creek Vineyards (which provides the venue, the chair carved by Morgan Creek's Adam Marti, and the musical expertise of Ben and
Georg Marti, also members of the family who own and operate the vineyards and winery),
and from KMSU radio. The League of Minnesota Poets recruits judges and helps to
publicize the Eisteddfod state-wide.
We hope you will be able to join us—or if you cannot, that you will spread the word about
this lively event promoting the art of poetry, featuring some of Minnesota's finest poets.
Previous winners have been the widely published and award-winning poets Doris Stengel
(Brainerd), Sharon Chmielarz (Brooklyn Park), Norita Dittberner-Jax (St. Paul), and Angela
Foster (Pine City). The competition is open to any poet from Minnesota and adjacent
states, and entries must be postmarked by May 27, 2011. If you receive this invitation, but
do not wish to enter the competition, and if you cannot attend, please pass it along to
Cambria Eisteddfod 2011 Competition for Bardic Chair: Rules
1. Competition is open to anyone who has resided in Minnesota or an adjacent state for at least one year, regardless of experience, education, or publication record. Entrants should be aware that the bardic tradition demands a high degree of skill and serious content. Bards are traditionally keepers and transmitters of cultural wisdom, and provide public commentary. Humor and satire are welcome, but the subjects and styles of the poems submitted should be essentially significant.
2. Entrants should submit three to five poems, at least one of which must address this year’s contest theme: Independence Day. This thematic poem should relate to the significance of, or celebration of, the original occasion of the Declaration of Independence, or relate to manners, customs, or events associated with the annual Fourth of July holiday. Celebration of the achievement of someone’s personal independence is not sufficient. Poems may be in either formal verse or free verse. Each poem should be separately titled.
3. The written text submitted should not exceed seven pages. Each poem should be typed single-spaced in a single column, in 12-point characters on plain white paper, one side only (no fancy fonts). No more than one poem should appear on any page.
4. All work submitted must be the contestant’s original work, published or unpublished, but the submitted manuscripts must not be photomechanical copies of published pages. No submitted poems should contain references that could reveal the author’s identity to a judge; proper names of persons should be replaced by pseudonyms. The actual names may be reinstated by finalists during the oral presentation phase of the contest.
5. Two stapled copies of the manuscript must be submitted. One should contain the poet’s name, address, and phone number or email address in the upper left corner of the first page. The other copy should contain no marks indicating the author’s identity.
6. Entries should be accompanied by an entry fee of $25. Checks should be made out to “Blue Earth County Historical Society” (no cash or money orders, please). Manuscripts, identifying sheets, and checks should be sent together, unfolded, in a single envelope to John Rezmerski, 210 Woodhaven Lane, Mankato, MN 56001. Manuscripts will not be returned. For acknowledgement of receipt, please include a self-addressed postcard.
7. Finalist status is subject to commitment to perform submitted work at the Eisteddfod on June 26, 2011. If a contestant is unable to appear, judges may designate a replacement finalist from among the other entrants. Finalists, by accepting their awards, are agreeing to permit their Independence Day poems to be publicly read at the Cambria Fourth of July Celebration.
8. Each finalist will recite his or her work on stage. Presentations may last 3-5 minutes. Performances that do not fall within the time limits will be disqualified. Finalists should carefully rehearse their complete performances to be sure they fit the prescribed time. The oral performance must include the qualifying Independence Day poem referred to in rule #2, and other selections from the written manuscript submitted for preliminary judging. Poems not previously submitted should not be used in the performance. Memorization is not required. Judges are instructed not to downgrade performers for using a manuscript, but they will consider the performer’s skill at maintaining audience rapport. No props or costumes are permitted.
9. Entry implies acceptance of these rules and conditions of the contest; decisions of the judges at each stage of the competition shall be final. No refunds of entry fees will be made to contestants who withdraw from the competition. Address any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>, or call 507-345-5876.
10. Written entries must be postmarked by May 31, 2011. Finalists will be notified by June 14.
11. Each finalist will receive an award of $50.00. The winner’s prize of an oak chair is not a rotating trophy, but is the winner’s to keep.