Winning Poems – Adult Contests

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For a list of winners of the NCPS Student Contests, see

For the winners of the Brockman-Campbell Book Award, see

For the winners of previous years’ contests, see

2014 NCPS Adult Contest Winners

Poet Laureate Award
Preliminary judge: William Wright
Final judge: Joseph Bathanti
Number of qualified submissions: 72
Winner: Catherine Carter, “Day of the Dead”


It’s the second Day of the Dead. Your marigolds
froze; you never got around to shaping sugar
skulls, or dead-bread, but you’re raking
the hill road, even though you love the fallen
leaves, because you loathe the blare
of your neighbor’s blower, and because it’s gentle
exercise for the shoulder you tore trying to roll
a kayak which had no plans to go anywhere
but over. The westerly breeze rises,
and the sun leans through that cold roll
of cloud over the far ridge, and suddenly
it’s leaves, leaves everywhere, turning
and turning, sifting, spinning, sailing.
The whole shining height of the air
fills with them, innumerable as shaken grains
of salt: oak, poplar, cherry, poison
ivy, even a few from the stripling
American chestnuts still starring this hill,
too young yet for the blight. They blow between
porch boards, and into the lee of every rotting log,
and onto the road you’re raking, making
you wonder about this use of your time.
Every current, every level of air is brief
harbor for a goldfinch leaf, the way it was
when you were a kid, outside for this instead
of at your desk. The sun pours through
the leaves, and turns the dun wall
of the neighbor’s house briefly white.
And you’re forty-six, and your parents are seventy-
five, still strong, still clear. You can walk;
you have all your fingers, gripping
the rake. Rain has filled the well. The woods
are bright with the sweet-betsy bushes
and the tawny hickories offering back
the light they drank all year,
and the leaves are flying like spirits
as you rake the blessed road.
Like the crazy old woman
you’re slowly becoming, you say aloud
to the road, I can never forget this,
by which, of course, you mean you’ll never remember.


  • Anna Weaver, “a flatlander visits the beach”
  • Peter Krones, “A moth in a subway station 2”
  • Les Brown, “At Sixty Six”
  • Carol Pearce Bjorlie, “Ekphrasis”
  • Clyde Lovelady, “Mise En Place”
  • Joe Morris, “Necessities”
  • Marylin Hervieux, “Resolute”
  • Marjorie McNamara, “Where We Are”
  • Douglas Anne McHargue, “Women Without Make-Up”

Thomas H. McDill Award
Judge: Greg Turner
Number of qualified submissions: 121
1st place: Libby Bernardin, “Geography”
2nd place: David T. Manning, “Bristlecone”
3rd place: Jeanne Julian, “The Last House of Refuge”
Honorable mention:
Nancy Shires, “Teaching in Virginia, 1969”

Caldwell Nixon, Jr., Award
Judge: Mary Hutchins Harris
Number of qualified submissions: 41
1st place: Jane Shlensky, “Great Ideas for Young Risk Takers”
2nd place: Stephanie Smith, “How to Draw a Sparrow”
3rd place: Joan Leotta, “Five Little Bears Came to My House Today”
Honorable mentions:
Brenda Ledford, “Flying Squirrel”
Ruth Ilg, “Safari Dream”
Patricia Podlipec, “Bird Talk”

Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award
Judge: John Paul Davis
Number of qualified submissions: 94
1st place: Jodi Barnes, “Placebo”
2nd place: Joan Barasovska, “Unloving You”
3rd place: Bill Griffin, “Red-Eyed Vireo as Metaphor for Still Loving You”
Honorable mentions:
Jenny Hubbard, “The Bath”
Barbara Campbell, “Before I Woke”
Marjorie McNamara, “I Have to Think About It”

Griffin-Farlow Haiku Award
Judge: Karen Craigo
Number of qualified submissions: 47
1st place: Carol Pearce Bjorlie, “Snowflake Haiku”
2nd place: MaXine Carey Harker, “In the flooded pasture” [first line]

Honorable mentions:
Janet Ireland Trail, “There is time to think” [first line]
Deborah H. Doolittle, “(June 3rd)”
Patricia Daharsh, “august dusk” [first line]

Joanna Catherine Scott Award
Judge: Robert Parham
Number of qualified submissions: 47
1st place: Jenny Hubbard, “Philip Larkin (First in English Literature, St. John’s College, Oxford) Takes a Job Shelving Books”
2nd place: Barbara Brooks, “Still Life”
3rd place: Sharon A. Sharp, “The Pursuit”
Honorable Mentions:
Janet Warman, “Love Pantoum for Andy”
Jeanne Julian, “The Light”

Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award
Judge: Debra A. Daniel
Number of qualified submissions: 81
1st place: Eric Weil, “The Frog Not Taken”
2nd place: J. August Baguette, “Hurry, Grab The Laser Pointer”
3rd place: Peter Krones, “Tom Riddle Rides”
Honorable Mentions:
Wolf Boltz, “Chez Diablo”
Gordon Smith, “Julie”

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award
Judge: Cynthia Atkins
Number of qualified submissions: 75
1st place: Jeanne Julian, “Turtles”
2nd place: Deborah H. Doolittle, “The Blue Thread”
3rd place: Joyce Brown, “Family Gravestones: Autumn, 2012”
Honorable mentions:
Cari Grindem-Corbett, “Missed Connection”
Milo Silver, “By Any Other Name”
Valerie Macon, “Offering”

Poetry of Courage Award
Judge: Jim Lundy
Number of qualified submissions: 68
1st place: Sharon A. Sharp, “A Tenuous Hold”
2nd place: Terri Kirby Erickson, “Bloom”
3rd place: Mary Hennessy, “Birdwings”
Honorable mentions:
Carl Grindem-Corbett, “Ode to my Brother”
David T. Manning, “Christmas Past”

Ruth Morris Moose Sestina Award
Judge: Mary Carroll-Hackett
Number of qualified submissions: 17
1st place: Deborah H. Doolittle, “Everything Ends in Weeping”
2nd place: Iris Tillman Hill, “Learning the Language, a sestina”
3rd place: Beth Ann Cagle, “Raised on Music”
Honorable Mentions:
Sara Gipson, “Reborn in Spring”
Lynn Sadler, “A Small Leap Via the Antelope”