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Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition now accepting submissions

Published 8:55am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lanier Library has compiled a book of winning poems from the past five years of the Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition, and that book will be available for sale when the announcement of winning poems occurs during the Lanier Library Poetry Festival on April 26, said Lynn Montgomery, poetry competition organizer.

“Every word in a poem says so much,” Montgomery said. “There are no extraneous words there. We’re pleased to have the poet laureate of North Carolina, Joseph Bathanti, as our judge this year.”

The festival will include a speech by award-winning poet Mark Doty. Frances Flynn, former Lanier Library Board of Directors member, initiated the competition six years ago, and more than 100 poets participated in the adult division in the first year. This year, the group anticipates 150 entries or more in the adult division and at least thirty entries in the high school division.

“I think we may have discovered a few poets and winning has given them a lot of confidence,” Flynn said. “The high school students get a boost in college applications, too.”

One high school student, Chelsea Regoni of Campobello, won first, second, and third place prizes for two consecutive years.

“She’s that good,” Montgomery said. “Now we have a rule that a first place winner can’t compete in the same category in subsequent years.”

In previous years, Cathy Smith Bowers, previous poet laureate, has judged the competition. Entries will be accepted from Jan. 15, 2014 until March 1, 2014 (postmark deadline).

Guidelines: The competition is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia. Only poems that have not been previously published in any form are eligible for consideration.

There are two categories for entries: adults and high school students.  Previous 1st place winners are not eligible to compete. Poems are to be typed in 12-point font (single spaced) and may not exceed 40 lines.  Please submit two copies of all poems.

Electronic submissions are not accepted; poems must be mailed and accompanied by an application form, included in this document. The author’s name should not appear on the poem.

Competitors may submit up to five poems accompanied by a fee per poem. All of the money generated by the competition will support the costs of the reception and the cost of the prizes, Montgomery said.

Adults may win prize money of $500 for first, $250 for second or $100 for third, and high school students may win $100 for first, $75 for second, and $50 for third. The final competition judge will be Joseph Bathanti, current Poet Laureate of North Carolina. Winners will be notified in April.

“The Lanier Library is run by a group of good people with good ideas, and the competition will continue as part of the literary festival,” Flynn said. “This competition positively affects the literary life of this area.”

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