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Sylvia Freeman Wins 2018 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

GREENSBORO—Sylvia Freeman of Durham has won the 2018 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for her poem “Burnt Offerings.” Freeman will receive $200 and publication in storySouth.

For the third year in a row, the winning poem came from a record-setting number of entries.

Final judge Lauren Moseley said of Freeman’s poem, “The smell! The sights! The textures! The author of ‘Burnt Offerings’ makes the reader experience the poem: I felt the flames in my hair, the ‘shards of shattered glass’ at my feet, and the relief of ‘holy water.’ I also admired the juxtaposition of the speaker’s hair blazing in a Baptist church and the burning ‘Viking boat’ in the river, bringing us Christian and pagan imagery in a rushing voice that never sounds forced. By the end of this journey (the ‘arms of fallen oak’ one of my favorite stops along it), we see that the speaker is as ephemeral a vessel as the cardboard boat. I love this poem.”

Sylvia Freeman is a native North Carolinian, a writer, poet, award-winning photographer, and singer/songwriter for fleur-de-lisa, a women’s acapella quartet who use poetry lyrics in their original music. Her poetry has appeared in The LakeWhen Women WakenCarolina Woman, and elsewhere. One of her photographs was featured in a special Best in Show exhibit in Palm Springs, CA, in 2017. Her photos can be found in Dove TalesHeron’s Nest, and the online gallery Fusion Art.

Moseley named “Dog Pissing on a Statue of the Buddha” by Asheville poet Luke Hankins as Runner-Up.

Hankins is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions, and a collection of essays, The Work of Creation: Selected Prose. He is the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets, and a collection of his translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow & Other Poems, is forthcoming from Seagull Books. Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books, a non-profit literary press focused on the life of the spirit from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives. He also serves as Senior Editor at Asheville Poetry Review.

Moseley selected “Red Mower, Blue Sky” by Charlotte’s Dannye Romine Powell and “Meditation Stone” by Greensboro’s John Thomas York for Honorable Mention. Powell has four collections of poetry, most recently Nobody Calls Me Darling Anymore from Press 53, and is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the NC Arts Council, and Yaddo. York won the 2017 Page Crafters Prize from the On the Same Page Festival, as well as the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for a memoir, “Seven Years on the Farm,” forthcoming from North Carolina Literary Review.

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 UNCGstorySouth 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 Lauren Moseley is the author of Big Windows, named one of “12 Most Anticipated Poetry Collections Hitting Bookstores in 2018” by Bustle. Lauren’s poems have appeared in the anthologies Best New Poets and Women Write Resistance and in such magazines as FIELD, Narrative, Copper Nickel, West Branch Wired, and Pleiades. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Lauren has been a fellow at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a recipient of an artist’s grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

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: “Burnt Offerings” by Sylvia Freeman
Runner up: “Dog Pissing on a Statue of the Buddha” by Luke Hankins
Honorable Mention: “Red Mower, Blue Sky” by Dannye Romine Powell
Honorable Mention: “Meditation Stone” by John Thomas York