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2020 Kathryn Byer Prize in Poetry Winner

Kathryn Stripling Byer

This winter, Western Carolina University sponsored the first annual LitFest Creative Writing Competition, awarding prizes in the categories of fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry.

The winner of this year’s Kathryn Byer Prize in Poetry was Rae Hanes for “How to Make Spaghetti.”

“The poem is very clever,” said final judge Kevin Boyle, “a very nice mix of sensory details related to pasta and sexuality, and an interesting use of the narrative form to get at emotion—regret and sadness, but the sadness is countered, in the poem, with a lot of dynamic energy that comes through a strong voice.”

Libby Bradley was Runner-Up for “Old Caroleen.”

The Kathryn Byer Prize in Poetry honors longtime friend of the NC Writers’ Network, WCU professor, and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer (1944-2017). Kay served as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate from 2005-2009. She published six collections of poetry, including Descent (LSU Press, 2012), which won the 2013 Southern Independent Booksellers Association Award for Poetry.

The winner of the Prize in Fiction was Foster Dalmas for “How Was Your Day Today?” Friend-of-the-Network Abigail DeWitt was the final judge.

The winner of the Prize in Literary Nonfiction was Chrishaun Baker for “Shaniya.” The final judge was Cassandra Kircher.

In the annual LitFest Creative Writing Competition, undergraduate students at WCU are invited to submit their original work to the annual LitFest Creative Writing Competition. Winners in each genre receive a cash prize, publication in Nomad, and a chance to read at the Spring Literary Festival [please note, this festival has been cancelled for 2020]. The competition is sponsored by the English department, Ron Rash, City Lights Bookstore, and Harry Alter Books.

The English Department at WCU offers undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees, including an MA in English and a Certificate in Technical and Professional Writing.