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Final judge David Blair chose Lisa's poem from a record number of submissions.
"'Relics of the Great Acceleration' is a poem of great presence in time and space, which are the natural elements of poetry," said Blair. "The poem has wonderful tactile qualities, bringing back the heaviness of a rotary phone on an index finger. The long lines and the stanzas convey a sense of movement and a sense of things being held in suspension, so this a poem that does not only remember, it embodies the act of remembering. There is a sense of psychological and personal detail and a novelistic sense of detail that poets too often neglect in favor of more personal caves. I love the grapefruits in the garden. This poem truly dwells. The ending of the poem, the volta, is felt and both inevitable and surprising."
Lisa Zerkle’s poems have appeared in The Collagist, Comstock Review, Southern Poetry Anthology, Broad River Review, Tar River Poetry, Nimrod, Sixfold, poemmemoirstory, Crucible, and Main Street Rag, among others. She is the author of Heart of the Light and a former editor of Kakalak. She lives in Charlotte, where she is the curator of 4X4CLT, a public art and poetry poster series, for the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts.
Eric Smith was named Runner-Up for his poem "Orrery." This poem will be considered for publication by storySouth.
Eric Smith's poems have been published recently in The Arkansas International and The New Criterion. He has new critical prose published and forthcoming in the Pleiades Book Review and The Writers' Chronicle. He is an assistant professor of English at Marshall University, and lives in Carrboro.
The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition accepts one-poem submissions and honors poet poet and critic Randall Jarrell, who taught at what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for nearly eighteen years. He was a 1996 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame who left behind nine books of poetry, four books of literary criticism, four children’s books, five anthologies, a bestselling academic novel, a translation of Goethe’s Faust, Part I, and a translation of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, produced on Broadway by The Actors’ Studio.
The competition is administered by Terry L. Kennedy, Associate Director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
storySouth is an online literary journal dedicated to showcasing the best poetry (and fiction and creative nonfiction) that writers from the "new south" have to offer. Facilitated by the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at UNCG, storySouth aims to prove that "the internet is not just a medium of flash and style; that excellent writing can attract attention without programming gimmicks and hard-to-read fonts." storySouth believes the American South today is a "mix of traditional and new, regional and international." Published poets include Cathy Smith Bowers, Al Maginnes, Dannye Romine Powell, and Elizabeth Swann.
Final judge David Blair grew up in Pittsburgh. He is the author of three books of poetry: Ascension Days, which was chosen by Thomas Lux for the Del Sol Poetry Prize, Arsonville, and Friends with Dogs. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Ploughshares, Slate Magazine, and many other places as well, including the anthologies The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Devouring the Green, and Zoland Poetry.
He has taught at the New England Institute of Art and in the M.FA. Writing Program at the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter, and he has a degree in philosophy from Fordham University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.
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Final judge Wiley Cash chose "Mother" from more than 200 submissions.
"This atmospheric, haunting story is a portrait of childhood grief and the ways in which children wade through it," Cash said. "Rooster, a young boy who cares for his dying mother while yearning for the mysteries of the world outside their home, is sensitive and beautifully drawn. The writing reminded me of the best of Elizabeth Spencer and Donald Ray Pollock."
Virginia Ewing Hudson, cellist turned writer, now spends far more time crafting fiction than practicing. Her story "Silo" won the Women’s Writing Award from Firefly Ridge Magazine, and also was a previous finalist for the Thomas Wolf Fiction Prize. "Silo," like this year’s winning story, "Mother," is an excerpt from a novel, for which Virginia is seeking publication. Her essays, stories, and poems, have appeared in The Colton Review, Vision and Voice, and The News & Observer in Raleigh. Virginia teaches cello at Meredith College, and lives in Raleigh with her husband, Bruce, and a small but merry band of cats.
Jane Shlensky recieved an honorable mention for her story "Clean Burn."
"Waitsel fancies himself a fire-conjuring Robin Hood," Cash said, "and the reader doesn't know whether to respect him or fear him. This story was as brief as a match strike, but its portrait of small-town life and the lives that go unnoticed is seared into my memory."
Jane Shlensky's poetry can be found in Writer's Digest, Pinesong, Kakalak, Southern Poetry Anthology: NC, and others. Her short fiction pieces have been finalists in Press 53, Doris Betts, and Thomas Wolfe contests. Her chapbook, Barefoot on Gravel (2016), is available from Finishing Line Press.
This year's final judge, Wiley Cash, is The New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy, which are both available from William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers. His forthcoming novel is The Last Ballad. Wiley is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two young daughters.
The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, which is awarded to a short story of 3,000 words or less, is administered by the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The program offers opportunities for writers of all levels to join a supportive learning community in which their skills and talents can be explored, practiced, and forged under the careful eye of professional writers. The program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes led by published writers and experienced teachers. Each course carries academic credit awarded through UNC-Asheville.
The Thomas Wolfe Review is the official journal of The Thomas Wolfe Society, publishing articles, features, tributes, and reviews about Wolfe and his circle. It also features bibliographical material, notes, news, and announcements of interest to Society members.
North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), was born in Asheville. His Look Homeward, Angel is considered one of the most important coming-of-age novels in the English language. Wolfe was considered at the time of his death to be the greatest talent North Carolina had given to American literature. His novels and collected short stories go beyond autobiography, trying to, in William Faulkner’s words, “put all the experience of the human heart on the head of a pin.” His intense poetic language and thoughtfully developed symbology, combined with his uncanny ability to enter the minds of his other characters and give them powerful voices, elevate the books from memoir to undeniable literary art.
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.