Regional Poetry Competition


The award-winning poetry from our Western NC Regional Poetry Competition has been published to our website, along with final judge Kari Gunter-Seymour's comments on the five placed winning poems. 

Winning poets and judges to read their works via Zoom Thursday, October 22, 2020
The Caldwell Arts Council is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Western NC Regional Poetry Competition. Seventy-nine poets submitted a total of 145 poems for this competition. All poems were reviewed by preliminary judge, David B. Prather of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and award selections were made by Kari Gunter-Seymour, Poet Laureate of Ohio. Both award winners and judges will read their works during a live Zoom presentation on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.
$500 First Place:   “When you tell me I’m being racist” by Catherine Carter, Cullowhee, NC
$250 Second:        “The Ottoman Empire” by Elizabeth Brandes, Hickory, NC
$150 Third:           “The River at World’s End” by Benjamin Cutler, Whittier, NC
$100 Fourth:          “Lessons from the Field” by Anne Maren-Hogan, Burnsville, NC
$75   Fifth:             “Figs” by Joyce Compton Brown, Troutman, NC
$25 Honorable Mention Awards:
“Nocturnal Howl Before Compline” by Jenny Bates, Germanton, NC
“Old Barn” by Les Brown, Troutman, NC
“Bluegills take part in the creation of the world” by Catherine Carter, Cullowhee, NC
“Prayer for a New Trail” by Bill Griffin, Elkin, NC
“September Sunset” by Benjamin Cutler, Whittier, NC
Competition awards were made possible by a contribution from Blue Ridge Energy.
The live online poetry reading will take place on Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom.  This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Email the Caldwell Arts Council at for the link to the Zoom event.
The winning poems will be published to our website after the Zoom reading presentation.

The Western NC Regional Online Poetry Competition
is produced by the Caldwell Arts Council
and is brought to you through the generosity of





David B. Prather, Preliminary Judge

Preliminary judge David B. Prather of Parkersburg, West Virginia 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 in Ohio.  He was the poetry editor of Confluence at Marietta College, and he hosted the Parkersburg Blennerhassett Reading Series, inviting established and emerging poets as presenters.  His work has been selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the anthology, What Have You Lost? 


Kari Gunter-Seymour, Final Judge

Final judge Kari Gunter-Seymour is Poet Laureate of the state of Ohio. She is a ninth generation Appalachian and editor of 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.  Kari also 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.

Her poetry appears in various chapbooks and 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.

Gunter-Seymour also is an award winning photographer whose work 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.