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Lisa Zerkle Wins Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

GREENSBORO—Lisa Zerkle has won the 2017 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for her poem “Relics of the Great Acceleration.” Lisa will receive $200 and publication in storySouth.

Final judge David Blair chose Lisa’s poem from a record number of submissions.

“‘Relics of the Great Acceleration’ is a poem of great presence in time and space, which are the natural elements of poetry,” said Blair. “The poem has wonderful tactile qualities, bringing back the heaviness of a rotary phone on an index finger. The long lines and the stanzas convey a sense of movement and a sense of things being held in suspension, so this a poem that does not only remember, it embodies the act of remembering. There is a sense of psychological and personal detail and a novelistic sense of detail that poets too often neglect in favor of more personal caves. I love the grapefruits in the garden. This poem truly dwells. The ending of the poem, the volta, is felt and both inevitable and surprising.”

Lisa Zerkle’s poems have appeared in The Collagist, Comstock Review, Southern Poetry Anthology, Broad River Review, Tar River Poetry, Nimrod, Sixfold, poemmemoirstory, Crucible, and Main Street Rag, among others. She is the author of Heart of the Light and a former editor of Kakalak. She lives in Charlotte, where she is the curator of 4X4CLT, a public art and poetry poster series, for the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts.

Eric Smith was named Runner-Up for his poem “Orrery.” This poem will be considered for publication by storySouth.

Eric Smith’s poems have been published recently in The Arkansas International and The New Criterion. He has new critical prose published and forthcoming in the Pleiades Book Review and The Writers’ Chronicle. He is an assistant professor of English at Marshall University, and lives in Carrboro.

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, Associate 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.” Published poets include Cathy Smith BowersAl MaginnesDannye Romine Powell, and Elizabeth Swann.

Final judge David Blair grew up in Pittsburgh. He is the author of three books of poetry: Ascension Days, which was chosen by Thomas Lux for the Del Sol Poetry Prize, Arsonville, and Friends with Dogs. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Ploughshares, Slate Magazine, and many other places as well, including the anthologies The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud WristletDevouring the Green, and Zoland Poetry.

He has taught at the New England Institute of Art and in the M.FA. Writing Program at the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter, and he has a degree in philosophy from Fordham University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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: Relics of the Great Acceleration by Lisa Zerkle

Runner-up: Orrery by Eric Smith