Joshua Martin of Asheville has won the 2023 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem “Ode to the Man Playing ‘Amazing Grace’ Badly on the Trumpet in the Strip Mall Parking Lot.” Martin will receive $200 and publication in storySouth.
Final judge Corrie Lynn White said, “This poem sings—no, scats—verve into the American strip mall, where the speaker speculates that a busker’s mediocre rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ might ‘jumpstart the dryer in the back right corner’ of the laundromat. This is a poet whose gift of lyricism matches their command of the line, lines that strive and succeed to hold too much like ‘bags full of the discounted world.’ An easy winning choice!”
Martin is an adjunct English instructor at East Tennessee State University. The 2021 Donald Justice Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, his poetry, nonfiction, and book reviews have most recently appeared in The Bitter Southerner, The Kenyon Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Baltimore Review, Atlanta Review, and elsewhere. His first book, Earth of Inedible Things, won the 2020 Jacar Press Book Award. He lives in Asheville with his wife and two cats.
White named “The Bread Maker’s Last Testament” by Maria Rouphail as Runner-Up, and “Propagating Pitcher Plants” by Melinda Thomsen as an Honorable Mention.
The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition accepts one-poem submissions and honors 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.”
Corrie Lynn White is a poet and essayist living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Originally from Gold Hill, North Carolina, she holds a BA from UNC Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro. She currently works as a journalist, having formerly taught English at the high school and college levels. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, Chattahoochee Review, New Ohio Review, Best New Poets, and Mississippi Review, among other places. Her first full-length collection—Gold Hill Family Audio—won the 2021 Cowles Poetry Prize and was published through Southeast Missouri State University Press in October 2022.
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.