Of ample hills: The 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize

Western North Carolina has long history as a mecca for the written word. From Thomas Wolfe to Wilma Dykeman, O. Henry to Charles Frazier, our mountains have been home to a diverse group of esteemed authors, many of them poets. Is it coincidence that the last three poets laureate of North Carolina — Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Cathy Smith Bowers — are from the mountains? And we know there are more poets in these hills.

We are proud to announce the 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize! We are searching for quality poetry from you, our talented community of writers — from the established professional to the avid amateur.

The theme this year is “A Day in the Mountains.” Interpret that any way you choose! Be poetic about it! Be, as Walt Whitman wrote, “of ample hills”!

The format is quite simple. Submit two poems via our website. There is a small fee of $5, but few restrictions regarding style or form. So, as William Carlos Williams said, “get said what must be said.” But please say it originally: No translations, adaptations or other directly derivative work. And poets do need to reside in WNC, upstate South Carolina or Eastern Tennessee.

We will accept poems through March 17, 2011 and select ten poems based on originality, creativity and artistic quality. One poet from these 10 will be selected (by a committee of local poetry lovers) as the 2011 winner of the Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize! All ten poets will also receive a special prize from Mountain Xpress.

Mountain Xpress will publish the winning poems and feature their authors throughout the month of April. April is National Poetry Month and a perfect time to celebrate our homegrown talent. In addition to being published in Mountain Xpress, the winning poets will read their work on Friday, April 8 at a very special event here in Asheville. We have secured the Masonic Temple, a place rich in local history with perfect acoustics, for a “poetry show.” We will finish the evening with a mixed-media performance to close things in style! The winners of the Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize will also read at Asheville Wordfest, held in early May here in Asheville.

So select your best work — or better yet, write a new poem or two. Submit them by March 17 at www.mountainx.com/poetry2011 and see what happens. We are ready on our end and look forward to a celebration of poetry here in the mountains!

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8 thoughts on “Of ample hills: The 2011 Mountain Xpress Poetry Prize

  1. It’s Walt Whitman!

    “I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;
    I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters around it;
    I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
    In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,
    In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon me.”

  2. Alas, my heart alone still calls its home the mountains

    My heart alone still gazes down from above into valleys conquered by man long ago and tamed by industry and commerce

    My heart alone still beats to the rhythm of hammered dulcimer and upright bass

    My heart alone still knows the cold winter air of a mountain morning and the fresh, clean breeze of spring time coming

    My heart is alone without the mountains

  3. Ken Hanke

    It’s Walt Whitman!

    I don’t think Walt was much interested in “ample hills” in the sense Anne meant.

  4. Josquin Desprez

    Are there restrictions of language? If i quote a foreign work, must i translate, or is it permissible to insert, say, some Spanish?

  5. Larry Black

    Wow, I really feel foolish. I heard about the poetry contest on WNCW, and when I searched on google I went straight to the entry form. I didn’t see any mention of there being a theme for the entries, so my two entries most likely baffled the judging staff. You would have to stretch the imagination to the extreme for them to fit the theme. I’ll do better next time.

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