The suspense was killing me. In late April or early May each year the winners of the prestigious Randall Jarrell Poetry Contest are announced. Judges change from year to year, and for the past two years, Davidson poet Alan Michael Parker has taken first place.
Would he win again? I couldn’t wait to find out.
As it turns out, this year’s winner is Gabrielle Freeman, who earned her MFA in poetry at Converse College in 2013 and teaches at East Carolina University in Greenville. Her winning poem is “Failure to Obliterate,” which judge William Wright described as “wholly original” and “combining a haunting and incandescent world with full attention to sound textures.” She will also receive $200 and publication in a special supplement of the literary journal storySouth.
First runner-up is “Testimony” by Greensboro poet Ann Deagon, a familiar name to long-time North Carolinians. And second runner-up is “Every Field of Paradise” by Chapel Hill’s Ralph Earle.
Honorable Mentions went to Ayden’s Malaika King Albrecht for her poem “The Way Desire Touches”; to Wilmington’s Michael White for “Blackout”; and Asheville’s Luke Hankins for his poem “Divided.”
The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honors the work and legacy of the poet and critic Randall Jarrell, who taught at what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for nearly eighteen years.