Each quarter, we award fifty dollars and a complimentary print issue to a reader who submits the best feedback on a piece appearing in the current issue of The Summerset Review. The goals of this unique contest are to promote the awareness and visibility of literary magazines in our world and culture, and to get continued assurance that we have indeed connected with our readers.

For information on how to submit your feedback, see our Guidelines page. There is no entry fee. Submissions must be made by March 1, 2011, and comments must pertain to material in this issue.

We are publishing the winning entry and two runners-up, relating to material which appeared in our Fall 2010 issue.

The award winner this quarter is -

Pamela Tambornino of Linwood, Kansas

The runners-up are -

Y.S. of Michigan City
Jim Welke of Ferndale, Michigan

Pamela writes -

Denise Low's poem, "A Skulk of Foxes," spoke to my heart as a Native American. I saw, in my mind's eye, the fox as it is in the oral tradition stories: a shifter in shadows, a strong hunter with a pelt that was prized for its richness and honor. My tribe has many stories of the fox as a trickster, one who tricks humans and animals to the fox's advantage. I could actually see the fox as he ran in the twilight, hid in his den, and flaunted his richness to other animals.

This poem brings so many memories of my Cherokee grandmother, and summer days, with her telling me Native American stories. I remember one she sang that called to the fox so that each generation would remember the fox people with homage:

Give honor to the spirit. I sang.

Give respect and homage to the finest of the animal people. I sang.

Remember the fox is life, and he is of the animal people. I sang.

Is the "Skulk of Foxes" an animal person, or a human? Perhaps both—as both are supported in the Native American oral tradition. Denise Low's poem brought me into the fox's world, and once again I sat with my grandmother and heard her stories of strength and wisdom.

Y. writes -

As I started to read "Intake" by Mark Dostert, a flood of memories past and current threatened to drown me. Ten years ago I held a similar position in a facility in Arkansas, and hated every minute of it. Some of the kids were there because they were certifiable, violent criminals and "they deserved to be"; some had just been caught doing something stupid, like smoking marijuana in their grandmother's house. I hated my life just then: I had two full-time jobs. This was one, and the other was being the night-time head of detox at a treatment facility. I would go to work at 7pm, get off at 7am, shower, and go to the "kiddie jail" as it was called. I felt sorry for the ones I thought of as "good" kids, and I accidentally-on-purpose dropped cigarettes for them around the grounds. I realized that I was neither a good role model nor a good jailer. I was a hypocrite, just like when I got high before and after my shift at the rehab. Something had to give; it was me.

Jim writes -

Jo-Anne Rosen's "The Luckiest Man Alive" captures the sensations of a stranger in a strange land. An American woman lives in Italy, meets a German, and visits Germany. She speaks fluent German, even catching the vagaries of the forest dialect of Eichelbachtal, and presumably speaks Italian, too. This is a bright and broad-minded girl.

But broad-mindedness only goes so far. When Julie, at the dark and dirty end of a long "fest," saturated with alcohol, discovers that her boyfriend's father served in Hitler's bodyguard unit, she seems genuinely shocked.

I guess I was shocked, too. Ms. Rosen does a great job leading us down the path toward complacency, thinking this guy, Herr Steinle, is just a kindly old man who served bravely in the Second World War. True enough. Probably he did serve bravely. But then he was commissioned to join Hitler's bodyguard. And he survived that episode. Hence, he's the luckiest man alive.

Do we sympathize with him? I did. I picture myself in Herr Steinle's role: dragged away from the deadly front to the posh confines of Hitler's inner sanctum. I think many, if not most very young enlisted men would take that job and shut up about it. Regret it later, perhaps, but take it now. And it saddens me to contemplate this. With one pull of the trigger on his government-issue handgun, or rifle—whatever he carried—Herr Steinle could have saved many, many lives. But he didn't do it. Would I have? In retrospect, yes. But in the moment, probably not. Abstract bravery in posh confines is difficult to summon.