Mount Island announces poetry contest winners

BRATTLEBORO — Mount Island has announced winners of the digital magazine's Lucy Terry Prince Prize, for rural poets of color.

Grand prize winner is Brittny Ray Crowell, for the poem “Blood Petition: A Prayer of Reckoning.”

The runner up poems are “The Big Day” by Jordan Charlton and “Can You Taste The Ivory Coast Chocolate” by Mervyn Seivwright.

“During times such as these, poetry is often one of the vehicles that reminds us of the importance of bearing witness,” writes Shanta Lee Gander, the magazine's director of outreach and publicity and nonfiction editor.

This historic prize was designed to honor the life of Lucy Terry Prince, a Guilford landowner, community organizer, orator, and the first known African American poet in English literature, known for “Bars Fight,” a poem that documents a raid in Deerfield, Mass. in 1746.

The prize's inaugural judge, Major Jackson, a celebrated poet whose most recent poetry collection is The Absurd Man, made his final decisions from entries selected as finalists by the magazine's editorial team.

This was a blind contest, with winners chosen without judges having any identifying information of the poet.

Finalists included— LN Bethea and Sarah Audsley.

“There's no better time to honor the legacy of Lucy Terry Prince than 2020, the year of our Black Spring,” Mount Island founder and Editor-in-Chief Desmond Saunders Peeples said in a news release.

“I'm proud as a peach that we've brought rural people of color from around the country together in the name of a Black woman who made her home a sanctuary for her community in colonial Vermont - and that in doing so, we are able to tangibly support three exceptional Black writers here and now,” they added.

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