NORTH CAROLINA—Alan Michael Parker of Davidson has won the 2013 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem, "The Ladder."
Final judge Gabriel Spera said of Parker's poem, "This poem spoke to me on a very personal level. The voice—world-weary, wistful, but not without hope—is immediately familiar and sympathetic....I love the unexpected turn in the phrase. Mostly, though, I'm drawn to how this poem conveys the quintessentially human drive to find clarity in confusion, to conquer desire, to believe in new beginnings, and to accept and even savor the fleeting nature of all human endeavors."
Parker will receive a prize of $250, and his poem, along with the runner-up and the two honorable mentions, will be published by storySouth in an special section this summer.
Parker is the author of three novels, Cry Uncle, Whale Man, and The Committee on Town Happiness (Dzanc Books, forthcoming in 2014); and seven collections of poems, including Long Division (Tupelo Press, 2012) winner of the 2012 North Carolina Book Award for the best collection of poetry; and editor of three other volumes, including Who's Who in 20th Century World Poetry, for which he served as Editor for North America. He has been awarded three Pushcart Prizes, the Fineline Prize from the Mid-American Review, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, among other honors; he has published over 200 poems and stories in journals.
Gabriel Spera, a recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the author of two poetry collections, named Joseph Mills' poem "Simple Architecture" as runner-up. Katherine Soniat's "Early Life Triptych" and Ross White's "Michelangelo's David" were awarded honorable mentions.
Of Mills' poem, Spera said, “This poem grew on me with each re-reading. Though simple in tone and diction (and title), it is complicated, in the sense that it forges internal linkages that are not immediately apparent....I was taken in by the exploration of the ambiguous nature of the artist, the sudden awareness of the poet's desire to rewrite or whitewash a world that defies any such attempt.”
Joseph Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. His published work includes poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism. He has published four volumes of poetry with Press 53: Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet; Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers; Somewhere During the Spin Cycle; and Love and Other Collisions. Joseph and his wife, Danielle Tarmey, are the authors of A Guide to North Carolina's Wineries (John F. Blair, Publisher). The second edition was released in 2007. He blogs about various topics at "Icing and Ink" and occasionally posts on Twitter @JosephRmills.
The 2013 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition drew 122 entries. Nineteen finalists included Jim Clark, Terri Kirby Erickson, Coppie Green, Ruth Moose, Valerie Nieman, Lynn Veach Sadler, Maureen Sherbondy, and Jim Whiteside.
The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honors the work and legacy of the poet and critic Randall Jarrell, who taught at what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for nearly eighteen years. The competition is administered by Terry L. Kennedy and the graduate program in creative writing at UNCG, and is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Visit www.ncwriters.org for more information on this and other contests.