Regional Poetry Competition


Produced by the Caldwell Arts Council in Lenoir, NC  ·
Sponsored by Blue Ridge Energy

Guidelines & Information

Caldwell Arts Council announces its “Western NC Regional Online Poetry Competition," featuring Final Judge Kari Gunter-Seymour, Poet Laureate of the state of Ohio and $1200 in total cash awards! (Click here for a printable pdf of these guidelines.)

Eligibility and Guidelines:

· Residents of the following 31 counties in western North Carolina are eligible to enter:  Alexander,
Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey. 

· The deadline for entry is midnight, September 15, 2020.

· Entrants must be at least 18 years of age at time of submission.

· Each entrant may submit up to two original poems.

· Cost to enter is $10 for up to two poems.

· All entries AND entry fees must be submitted electronically. See below for submission and payment details. No U.S.P.S. mailed entries, checks or cash will be accepted.

· Poems must not have been written before January 1, 2019.

· Previously published poems are not eligible for submission.

· Poems can be of any subject matter or style; however the Caldwell Arts Council reserves the right to decline the written or audible posting/performance of any entered poem to its website, or other Arts Council platform due to its unsuitability for wide audiences as determined solely by the Caldwell Arts Council.

· Poems must be submitted electronically as a WORD document using .doc or .docx as your file

· Poems cannot exceed 100 lines.

· All poems must be single spaced, in Times New Roman font, and be 12pt. type.

· Winning entrants must agree to allow their poems to be posted on the Caldwell Arts Council’s website and/or to be used in subsequent marketing/promotional materials by the Caldwell Arts Council.

· Entrants reserve/keep all other publication rights.

· Caldwell Arts Council staff, board members and their immediate family members are ineligible to


Judging, Awards, and Readings

· Final judge is Kari Gunter-Seymour, Poet Laureate of Ohio.

· Preliminary judge for the competition is David Prather of Parkersburg, West Virginia. 

· Judges bio information may be found on the Caldwell Arts Council’s “Regional Poetry Competition” webpage.

· The judges’ decisions are final.

· $1200 in monetary awards will be given and include five placed awards and five honorable mentions.

· 1st place award - $500; 2nd place - $250; 3rd place - $150; 4th place - $100; 5th place $75. 
Honorable mentions will be awarded $25 each.

· Winners will be notified by October 15, 2020.

· There will be a public online poetry reading via Zoom showcasing the placed winners on October 22, 2020 at 7:00 pm.  Participation in the reading by the winners is encouraged but not required.  The two judges will also be reading from their personal works during the event.  Additional information will be sent closer to the date.

· Winning poems will be posted on the Caldwell Arts Council’s website. 


How to Submit:

· Find submission and payment links on our website at

· Please attach only one document to your entry email by copying and pasting poems and entry info into a single document using the information as follows:

· Page one of the document is your contact information and should include:  1. Your name.  2. Your mailing address.  3. Your telephone number.  4. Your email address.  5. The title(s) of your poem(s).  6. A short bio of 60 words or less.

· Enter your first poem on page 2 of the document.

· If you submit a second poem, start it on page 3, or the next subsequent page if your first poem is longer than one page.

· All poems must be single spaced, set in Times New Roman font, and be in 12 pt. type.

· DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME ON ANY PAGE EXCEPT THE FIRST PAGE!  Only the pages of the document containing the actual poem(s) will be forwarded to the judges.

· Title and save the document created as “Last Name_First Name” using your own last and first names.

· Either email your saved document as an attachment with "WNC Poetry Competition" as the subject line to or use the link on our website when you submit payment.

· Electronically submit your entry fee of $10 by clicking the website link for payment via PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to submit payment using this link. No cash or checks will be accepted.

· Poems and payment must be received by the Caldwell Arts Council by midnight, September 15, 2020.



This competition is made possible by the generosity of

Blue Ridge Energy



Use this email address to submit your entries: 


Please make payment only using the link below. No cash or checks will be accepted. You do not need a PayPal account to submit payment using this link.  


Poet name & Phone number:



David B. Prather, Preliminary Judge

David B. Prather is the author of We Were Birds (Main Street Rag Publishing).  His work has appeared in several print and online journals, including Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Poet Lore, Seneca Review, The Literary Review, Potomac Review, South Florida Poetry Review, and many others.  He studied with Tony Hoagland, Steve Orlen, Agha Shahid Ali, and Joan Aleshire at Warren Wilson College, and has taught literature and creative writing at West Virginia University-Parkersburg and at Marietta College (OH).  He was the poetry editor of Confluence at Marietta College, and he hosted the Blennerhassett Reading Series in Parkersburg, WV, inviting established and emerging poets as presenters.  His work has been selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the anthology, What Have You Lost?  Currently, David lives in Parkersburg, WV.


Kari Gunter-Seymour, Final Judge

Gunter-Seymour is a ninth generation Appalachian and editor the Women of Appalachia Project™ anthologies, "Women Speak," volumes 1-5 and "Essentially Athens Ohio," an anthology focused on landmarks, tales and experiences of those living in or deeply connected to Athens county. She holds a B.F.A. in graphic design and an M.A. in commercial photography and is a retired instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.  A poem she wrote in support of families living in poverty in Athens County, OH, went viral and has been seen by over 100,000 people, resulting in thousands of dollars donated to her local food pantry. She is the Poet Laureate of Ohio.

Her poetry appears in several publications including, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street RagStirringStill, CALYX and The LA TimesHer chapbook “Serving” is available from Crisis Chronicles Press. She has been nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize.

In a time of inflated posturing and relentless self-promotion, Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poems offer a refuge. The work is firmly and unapologetically attached to her home soil, and is an examination of the long-lasting effects of stereotype and false narratives surrounding native Appalachians. More than merely commenting, her work dares to search for meaning.


Her current collection, A Place So Deep Inside America It Can't Be Seenis available from Sheila-Na_Gig Editions.

‚ÄčHer award winning photography has been published nationally in The Sun Magazine, Light Journal, Looking at Appalachia, Storm Cellar QuarterlyAnthology of Appalachian Writers, Vine Leaves Journal and Appalachian Heritage Magazine.

Kari is the founder/executive director of the “Women of Appalachia Project,” an arts organization she created to address discrimination directed at women from the Appalachian region by encouraging participation from women artists (spoken word and fine art ) of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to come together, embrace the stereotype, show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors people use to judge her. (