Back to Network News

Greensboro Writer Wins Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

John Haugh

GREENSBORO—John Haugh of Greensboro has won the 2022 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem “Consider the word pursuit on the Winter Solstice.” Haugh will receive $200 and publication in storySouth.

Final judge Maria Hummel said, “The sharp, playful syntax of this poem drew my attention first, but the more I read it, the more I began to admire its examination of aquisitional American longing. It’s fitting that ‘Consider the word pursuit . . .’ starts with a conveyer belt and ends on a stoop laden with Amazon boxes, symbols of travel and possession, but also of departure and hollowing out. At the same time, the poem unfolds with delightful phrasings (‘bro-shrink,’ ‘transitory-happy,’ ‘butter-smooth pears’), it deftly exposes our deep-seated yearning for happiness and the ways we continue to lock ourselves away from it.”

Haugh’s writing has been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Main Street Rag, Rat’s Ass Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Tipton Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He was a runner up for the James Applewhite Poetry Prize in 2020, and one of his poems was selected for Poetry in Plain Sight. Mr. Haugh lives in North Carolina, was a good fencer once, and spends untold hours in bookstores like Scuppernong and Bookmarks. When not helping fix that supply-chain problem, he works on his first chapbook, Baba Yaga, The Businessman and I.

Hummel named “Madras” by Aruna Gurumurthy as Runner-Up, and “Michael” by Jeff Miles and “Asymptomatic” by Vivian Bikulege as Honorable Mentions.

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’sFaust, 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.”

Maria Hummel is a novelist and poet. Her books include Lesson in Red, a follow-up to Still Lives, a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine pick, a Book of the Month Club pick, and BBC Culture Best Book of 2018; Motherland, a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year; and House and Fire, winner of the APR/Honickman Poetry Prize.

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