Sidney Lanier poetry award ceremony April 27

Published 4:57 pm Monday, April 15, 2013

The awards for the 2013 Sidney Lanier Award Poetry Competition will be held at the Lanier Library on Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m.

A reception will follow the ceremony. The program is free and everyone is welcome.

This is the fifth year for the Lanier Poetry Competition and it received the greatest number of entries in both the adult and the student competitions, with a total of 173 submissions from poets from the mountains to the coasts of both North and South Carolina.

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In an essay titled “Prize-Writing” in the New York Times Book Review of April 7, Amanda Foreman described how literary competitions have evolved over the years and some of the reasoning, and the controversy, behind them, but she concluded that “A prize may hail a masterpiece or discover a new artist; but its fundamental purpose is to fill the silence with ideas.”

When the Lanier Library decided to explore the idea of a poetry prize almost six years ago, their reasoning was to recognize and encourage deserving Carolina poets and continue Tryon’s long literary tradition. It was also done to remember the work of the great Civil War poet, Sidney Lanier, a Tryon resident whose books, donated by his widow, were among the first to be circulated by the book club that became The Lanier Library in 1890.

While some literary competitions are funded by governments or wealthy industrialists, many others, such as the Sidney Lanier Award, are funded only by the entry fees of the poets themselves. This year the total monetary value of the Lanier Award prizes will exceed $1,100, with a top prize of $500, but, as past winners have told us, it is the recognition of the worthiness of their work that is their greatest reward.

As she has since the beginning of the competition, Cathy Smith Bowers of Tryon is the competition’s judge. During that time she became the North Carolina Poet Laureate, which greatly added to her busy schedule as a writer and a teacher at Queens University of Charlotte, but her commitment to the competition has been unrestrained throughout.  She will, once again, present this year’s awards to the winning poets and all finalists in the competition.

– article submitted by Frances Flynn