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Alan Michael Parker Wins 2019 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

GREENSBORO—Alan Michael Parker of Davidson has won the 2019 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem “Psalm.” Parker will receive $200 and publication in storySouth.

Final judge Jim Whiteside said of Parker’s poem, “In a world increasingly marked by chaos and unpredictability, a poem determined to seek peace is its own kind of haven. ‘Psalm’ posits a series of conditional statements that unfold beautifully—and those statements are as obsessed with the beauty of language as they are their genuine pursuit of quiet among the noise. What the poet leaves us with in the poem’s conclusion is an image of the body that’s entirely pure and striking; every time I’ve read this poem it has sent absolute shivers through me. It’s a delightful poem on the level of language and on a human level—the marker of a truly good piece of writing.”

Parker is the author of nine collections of poetry including The Age of Discovery (forthcoming from Tupelo Books), and four novels. The Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College, he also teaches in the University of Tampa’s low-residency M.F.A. program. He lives in Davidson with his wife, the artist Felicia van Bork.

Whiteside named “My Father’s House Had Wheels” by Annie Woodford as Runner-Up.

Woodford’s first book of poetry, Bootleg, was published by Groundhog Poetry Press this year. Her poetry has appeared in Blackbird, The Southern Review, The Rumpus, The Sewanee Review, Rattle, and Prairie Schooner. A winner of the Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets, she has also been awarded scholarships from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers’ conferences. A native of Bassett, Virginia—a mill town near the North Carolina border—she now teaches at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro.

Whiteside also selected three poems for Honorable Mention: “But First, We Must Eat the Skies” by Michael Boccardo; “Atlanta Braves” by Sandra Ann Winters; and “On Finding Monarch Caterpillars in September” by Kathryn Kirkpatrick.

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, 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.”

Final judge Jim Whiteside’s debut chapbook, Writing Your Name on the Glass, is forthcoming from Bull City Press this year. His poems have received support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned his MFA. Jim’s recent poems have appeared or will soon appear in journals such as Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, and Washington Square Review. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he has recently relocated to Madison, Wisconsin.

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

To read the recognized publications in storySouth, click the respective links below:

Winner: Psalm by Alan Michael Parker
Runner-up: My Father’s House Had Wheel’s by Annie Woodford

Honorable Mention: But First, We Must Eat the Skies, by Michael Boccardo
Honorable Mention:  On Finding Monarch Caterpillars in September by Kathryn Kirkpatrick
Honorable Mention:  Atlanta Braves by Sandra Ann Winters