Ross, Gray win top awards in 2009 Sidney Lanier poetry competition

Published 3:02 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

Of the 111 contestants in the 2009 Sidney Lanier Award poetry competition, the winner was Laurianne Ross of Columbus for her poem &dquo;Green Corn and Sky.&dquo; (Her poem appears today on pg. 5)

Ross received her award at a special presentation at the Lanier Library on Tuesday. The prize of $500 was presented to her by the competition&squo;s judge, Tryon poet Cathy Smith Bowers.

Ross is a neonatal intensive care nurse who is currently on leave following breast cancer surgery. She is hoping to be back to work in the fall. She began writing poetry in high school and became poetry editor of her high school magazine.

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She recently took a prose-writing course given by Cindy Ramsey at Isothermal Community College and is working on a lyrical essay, combining prose and poetry. Her husband, a biologist who works for the state also writes poetry.

She came to Polk County as a single mother with a young son to be close to her parents, who retired here, and to give her son a strong role model ‐ her father, Charles (Chuck) Ross, a retired army colonel who was and still is active in the equine community.

The winner of the competition&squo;s student award, with a prize of $100, was Kelsey Brown of Havelock, NC for her poem &dquo;The Dock.&dquo; Her sister, Caitlin Brown, also of Havelock, received an honorable mention for her poem &dquo;Together.&dquo; Both sisters attend Havelock High School, where Luke Horn is their English teacher.

Ash Gray of Tryon, a student at Polk County High School, also received an honorable mention for his poem &dquo;You and Your Worries.&dquo; His teacher is Mrs. McCammon. There were 31 entries in the student competition.

The competition was open to poets from North and South Carolina. Each winner and those awarded an honorable mention received a certificate recognizing their achievement in the form of a replica of a painting, commissioned for the competition, by Tryon artist Christine Mariotti. The original painting will be hung in the Library.

Both Laurianne Ross and Ash Gray attended the award ceremony and read their poems to the audience.

Six additional poets receiving a certificate of honorable mention were Bonnie Joy Bardos of Saluda for &dquo;Nobody&squo;s Beloved,&uot; Harry Goodheart of Tryon for &dquo;Change Station,&dquo; Jessica Heriot of Hendersonville for &dquo;Bannister at 97 Orchard Street,&dquo; Lee Lyons of Highlands for &dquo;Light Switches, Monica Jones of Tryon for &dquo;As I Watched My Parents Sleep,&dquo; and Charles Riddick of Gates for &dquo;He Loved it Madly.&dquo; Bardos, Goodheart and Heriot attended the ceremony and read their poems.

The award presentations followed a reading of her own poems by Cathy Smith Bowers, who also described the process of judging the poetry and read a phrase from each winning poem and those selected for honorable mention to illustrate the powerful use of language that made each poem exceptional.

The competition&squo;s committee, Crys Armburst, Gloria Underwood, Anna Pack Conner, Wendi Loomis, and its chairperson, Frances Flynn, all of Tryon,&bsp; organized the competition and have agreed do it again next year.