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Russell Colver Wins James Applewhite Poetry Prize With Poem Inspired by Noah and the Flood

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Photograph by Michael Dempsey

With the 25th issue of the award-winning North Carolina Literary Review just released, results are in for NCLR’s 2016 James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition: Poetry Editor Jeffrey Franklin has selected 25 poems by 20 poets for publication in the 2017 issues, and James Applewhite named Russell Colver’s poem “Commencement” as the prize winner. As described by Applewhite, “Commencement” “re-imagines the re-beginning of life on Earth after the Biblical flood, and makes us feel this wonder (or danger) of beginning again.” Colver will receive $250, and the poem will be published in the 2017 print issue of the North Carolina Literary Review due out next summer. Her poem “Acceptable Losses” was also recognized for honorable mention and will be published in NCLR Online in early 2017.

Colver is a current resident of Durham, NC, where she lives as “part of a multigenerational household” that she says inspired “Acceptable Losses.” Her recent publications include poems in Blue Heron Review, Kakalak, and Rattle. She is a certified professional Co-Active Coach who has worked in a variety of teaching fields; her specialty is working with adults with Executive Function Impairment. In her prize-winning poem “Commencement,” Applewhite notes, “language is self-aware as commentary while presenting a vivid dramatic situation. An action and the significance of it co-exist in these artful stanzas, as a tone of restraint opens out into a wide significance.”

A total of 206 poems by 54 poets were submitted to the 2016 competition. Applewhite also picked Paul Jones’s poem “Clear Channel” for second place, saying, “I love the language, the rhythm, the voice and the occasional rhyming.” Born in Hickory, NC, Jones works at UNC Chapel Hill. In Jones’s case, too, Applewhite named another of his poems, “Basketball Is a Kind of Poetry,” for honorable mention. A third poem Applewhite recognized for honorable mention is “A Poet Waits” by Kit Wienert, a native of Baltimore, MD, and currently a resident of Chapel Hill.

Other poets whose poems were selected as finalists and for publication in 2017 are Sam Barbee, Peg Bresnahan, Kristi Carter, Robert W. Hill, Marcus Johnston, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Nilla Larsen, Susan M. Lefler, Joan Leotta, Gina Malone, Joan McLean, Priscilla Melchior, Laura Sloan Patterson, Diana Pinckney, Tori Reynolds, Nicole Sarrocco, and Susan Schmidt.

Published since 1992 at East Carolina University, the North Carolina Literary Review has won numerous awards and citations, most recently the 2014 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. The James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition is supported with funding for NCLR from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. NCLR subscription information.


Download Press Release (PDF)

Read more about Russell Colver.

More information about the James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition. The annual deadline for submission is May 15.

Read NCLR Poetry Editor Jeffrey Franklin’s tribute to James Applewhite in NCLR Online 2013.

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