The North Carolina Literary Review has awarded its 2012 James Applewhite Prize to University of North Carolina at Greensboro professor and poet Mark Smith-Soto. Smith-Soto read his winning poem, “Last Retreat to Topsail Island,” at the Eastern North Carolina Literary Homecoming in Greenville, where Applewhite was also honored with the Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration. The poem will be published in the North Carolina Literary Review’s 2013 issue.
The James Applewhite Poetry Prize is awarded to a a writer who fits the NCLR definition of a North Carolina writer: anyone who currently lives in North Carolina, has lived in North Carolina, or uses North Carolina as subject matter.
Raised in Costa Rica, Mark Smith-Soto is Professor of Spanish and long-time Editor of International Poetry Review at UNC-Greensboro. He received an NEA fellowship in creative writing in 2005, and his poetry has been collected in a chapbook and two full-length volumes as well as published in numerous literary magazines.
Applewhite said of his choice of Smith-Soto’s poem as the winner, “The poem as a whole is excellent, beautifully crafted, unselfconsciously eloquent.”
The other finalists for the 2012 James Applewhite Prize were Laurence G. Avery’s poem “Only Yonaguska” (2nd place) and North Carolina Writers’ Network member Grace Cloris Ocasio’s “Little Girlfriend” (Honorable Mention). The other finalists selected for publication are Richard Betz’s “Picking Blackberries on Yellow Mountain Road,” Samantha Lee Deal’s “North Carolina, This Will Be The Last Poem,” and Susan Laughter Meyers’s “Banding Hummingbirds” and “Beggar’s-Lice.”
Published since 1992 by East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations. The James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition was funded by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.