2023 Pinesong Award Winners

It is my extreme pleasure to announce the winners of the 2023 Pinesong Awards.

Poet Laureate Award

Preliminary Judge: Holly Iglesias

Final Judge: Joseph Bathanti

First Place: Jane Shlensky – Preservation


Les Brown – Guernica

Joyce Brown – Pintos

Mary Alice Dixon – Communion with Orange

Eric Weil – Little Pieces

Liza Wolff-Francis – A Grieiving of a Tree

Earl Huband – An Incomplete History of a Storied Work

Morrow Dowdle – Emmet, I Can’t Stop

Sean Doyle – Grown Up

Alice Osborn Award

Judge: Olena Rose

1st Place: Carmen Ward – Bookfish

2nd Place: Scott Owens – What Poems Are About

Honorable Mention: Richard Allen Taylor – Things  You Can Do with a Balloon 

Honorable Mention: Richard L. Matta – a doggie shares complaints 

Honorable Mention: Eric Weil – A Secret

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award

Judge: Shannon C. Ward

1st Place: Joanne Durham – Praying Mantis

2nd Place: Laura Alderson – Deep closet archaeology

Honorable Mention: Priscilla Webster Williams – A Relic in an Age of Repair

Honorable Mention: Tori Reynolds – Poem with Balloons

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award

Judge: Jay Ward

1st Place: Lucinda Trew – we say their names 

2nd Place: Rose-Mary Harrington – Border Crossing 

Honorable Mention: Lavonne Adams – Symbiotic 

Bloodroot Haiku Award

Judge: Lenard Moore

1st Place: Glenn Coats – light offshore

2nd Place: Jeff Ferrara – on another plane

Honorable Mention: Cody Huddleston – wild blackberries

Honorable Mention: Anne Louise Curran – a jaunty floral

Thomas H. McDill Award

Judge: Steve Cushman

1st Place: Glenn Coats – The Austin Boy

2nd Place: Pam Baggett – Hendrix at Eighty

Honorable Mention: Mary Spadoni Foolish to Think

Honorable Mention: Laura Younger – The Sound of Perfume

Honorable Mention: Carmen Ward – Parting Gift

Jean Williams Poetry of Disability, Disease, and Healing Award

Judge: Stacy R. Nigliazzo

1st Place: Carlin Corsino – Medical Ethics 

2nd Place: David Cameron – Special

Honorable Mention: Pam Baggett – Winner

Honorable Mention: Peggy Heitmann – You’d Never Know Unless I Told You 

Honorable Mention: Josh Lefkowitz – Decisions

Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award

Judge: Melissa Hassard

1st Place: Jennifer Hu – While waiting, what do you think of? 

2nd Place: J.S.Absher – The Horse and His Rider Hath He Thrown into the Sea  

Honorable Mention: Beth Copeland – Eleven Lines In Search of the Perfect Rhyme 

Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award

Judge: Audrey Smith

1st Place: Sherry Siddall – Sympathy for a Cockroach

2nd Place: John Desjarlais – My Skeleton Speaks

Honorable Mention: Susan Spalt – It is bad enough

Honorable Mention: Sharon Howard – Life As I Know It

Honorable Mention: Mary Alice Dixon – Sales Tips for Swimwear Associates at Big Body Beachwear & Gear  

Poetry of Courage Award

Judge: Ebony Stewart

1st Place: Richard L. Matta – Do not fill your chamber with despair

2nd Place: Mary Spadoni – Lifeguard training to take place this Saturday at Main East High School

Honorable Mention: Rose-Mary Harrington – Peggy’s Husband

Honorable Mention: Lee Seese – PTSD

Honorable Mention: Megan Feichtel – Broken

Joanna Catherine Scott Award

Judge: D.J. Rogers

1st Place: Lavonne Adams – Ghazal: Ghost Apples (Kent County, Michigan) 

2nd Place: Bradley R. Strahan – Now Be Still

Honorable Mention: Joyce Brown – Ghazal for Lost Family

Honorable Mention: Beth Copeland – Appalachian Ghazal

I am incredibly thankful for every poet that submitted to this year’s contests. Each of our judges noted the caliber of the work and the difficulty in making their selections. Stay tuned for more information about our awards’ ceremony in May!

Lumpkin Out.

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award

Confession. I am addicted to social media. I have put automations in place to force me out of these apps if I’m scrolling for more than 30 minutes. I’ve set a daily screen time cap for two of favorite apps. And still. I end up devoting hours a day to an instagram, facebook, tik tok, discord, rinse and repeat loop.

Some of that, I’m sure is rooted in issues beyond the scope of the this blog, but much if it – is just a relentless need to know. To be informed about the goings on in local and global politics. To be aware of major news in the lives of my friends’ friends’ friends. To understand the jokes my students whisper. To be up on the latest trends. I am not alone in this craving.

One of the things I’m most intrigued by is the ways we remix what we see on social media. Video posting apps are filled with vidoes of folks reacting to other videos, reposting them with an extension to the idea, or using the audio from one with an original interpretation. The posts are themselves commentaries on posting.

Carolyn Forche defines a poem of witness as the trace of an event and an event itself. With our ever increasing access to more and more information, what will choose to bear witness to? What event will you craft for us that we can never forget? Send your poems of up to 36 lines to pinesongawards@gmail.com .

The Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award is judged by Jay Ward. Junious ‘Jay’ Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC. He is a National Slam champion (2018), an Individual World Poetry Slam champion (2019), and the author of Sing Me A Lesser Wound (Bull City Press, 2020) and Composition (forthcoming from Button Poetry, 2023). Jay currently serves as a Program Director for BreatheInk, and vice-chair for the board of The Watering Hole. He also serves on several curatorial committees related to the arts in Charlotte. He has attended Breadloaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, The Watering Hole and Tin House Winter Workshop. His work can be found in Columbia Journal, DIAGRAM, Four Way Review, Diode Poetry Journal, and on Button Poetry. 

Once you’ve submitted to the Pinesong Awards, head over to Poets Respond. The folks at Rattle are doing a great job of encouraging poetry of witness via responses to the weekly news. Lumpkin out.

Bloodroot Haiku Award

The past few days have found me shleppng back and forth from bed to couch, folliwng a strict Nyquil and hot tea regimen, and bemoaning my decision to brave the post-holiday hallways maskless. I’ve been in and out of troubled sleep – mostly awake in the dark of night. Things have not been great.

But today. I found a burst of energy that afforded me the opportunity to go outside to check the mail. And y’all. Fresh air is nothing short of life changing. In that brief trip to and from the mailbox I appreciated every drop of sunlight, the crispness of the air, and thought “Yes, this is what the poets are talking about.”

Haiku is a Japanese form of three-lined poetry, usually conceived of in 17 syallbles, traditionally including some aspect of nature. The English haiku expands this definition to include other themes and a wider range of syllabic allowance. Send us your three-lined poems of 10 – 20 syllables on any theme of your choosing to pinesongawards@gmail.com. For a full list of submission guidelines, check out the adult contest page of NCPS.

Our judge for the Bloodroot Haiku Award is Lenard D. More. He is the author of several books, including Long Rain, and The Geography of Jazz.  He also is the editor of several books, including All The Songs We Sing, and the multi-authored anthology, One Window’s Light. He is the recipient of several awards, including the North Carolina Award for Literature (2014); Haiku Museum of Tokyo Award (2003, 1994, and 1983); and Margaret Walker Creative Writing Award (1997); He is the first African American president of the Haiku Society of America.  He is the longtime Executive Chairman of the North Carolina Haiku Society.  He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Carolina African American Writers Collective.

I invite you to read this article from the Academy of American Poets on haiku. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, it offers some amazing examples of the form. I’m going to take the inspiration from the outdoors and write some haiku of my own. Lumpkin out.

Joanna Catherine Scott Award

This morning’s post comes to you from the kitchen of my parents’ kitchen in Las Vegas, NV. It is only my second time visiting them since they moved here several yeras ago (right at the top of the pandemic), and so it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable as the childhood home where my family and I have spent Thanksgiving for the past couple decades. And yet. The chipped and faded yellow mugs from which my older brother and I drank our first cups of coffee are in these cabinets. My parents’ prized photos of their mothers and siblings are carefully arranged atop the baby grand piano. A package of rice cakes (even though literally no one in this family likes rice cakes) has again found its way to the pantry, where it will go uneaten and unopened. And as I’m writing this to you now, my mind is flooded with all the traditions that have followed our famly across the country and into this brand new home.

The Joanna Catherine Scott Award is all about tradition. It celebrates creativity, technical proficiency, and challenges us to express brand new ideas in traditonal forms. We want your sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, and pantoums. Bops and ballades. Centos and ghazals. Because meeting the requirments of your chosen form may require more than the traditional Pinesong limit of 36 lines, submissions to the Scott contest may be up to 50 lines.

This year’s Joanna Catherine Scott Award is judged by D.J. Rogers, poet, essayist, and educator in teh Research Triangle of North Carolina. He is currently a consultnat on euity and diversity for a fiction Podcast, a teacher coach, and the sitting Poet Laureate for the city and county of Durham, NC. His work can be found at FreezeRay Poetry, Wingless Dreamer Press, and Black Nerd Problems.

I cannot sign off without acknowledging how thankful I am to have the opportunity to do this work with and for you – how grateful I am to spend a part of this day reading and sharing poems. Take a look at this gorgeous sestina by Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman, and a breathtaking ghazal from Agha Shahid Ali. Praying that today finds you well.

Lumpkin out.

Alice Osborn Award

Around this time last year, I told you about a dedicated first grade teacher to whom I attribute my love of poetry. I didn’t tell you about Oranges, the poem I wrote at the urging of a second grade teacher who convinced me I might be good at writing it. And then there was my eighth grade English teacher, who showed me the magic of memorizing my own work and performing it. There’s something about the things we fall in love with as children that have a way with staying us. Every day I am grateful that poetry is one of the things that has stayed with me.

The Alice Osbron Award is given to a poem of up to 36 lines, written by an adult, for children. These poems celebrate playful language, novelty, and suprise – they open the minds and hearts of the kiddos who read them.

The judge for this year’s contest is Olena Rose. She is an author and poet based in New York City. Her children’s book I Can Eat A Rainbow has been featured in programs for MyPlate, SNAP and EFNEP funded by the USDA. She is a North Carolina native. Her passion for writing began as a child when she was selected to write and deliver the opening speech for the Lake Norman Reginal Medical Center in 1999. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Marketing. Olena is the author of two collections of poetry and eight children’s books.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t give you an inspiration poem from the esteemed Mr. Silverstein; and let me also encourage you to check out this Maya Angelou classic that started my journey toward spoken word. Admittedly, that one not so much for the kiddos of this contest…but a necessary read nonetheless.

Lumpkin out.

Mary Ruffin Poole Award

There are a great many things that I take for granted. I woke up this morning and expected, with very little effort on my part, to have water for a shower, electricity for my television, and clean clothes to wear to the job I rely on. I do this (and have done this) every day for years and take for granted for that I will continue to do this for many more. On Tuesday, without thought, I drove to my polling place, knowing I’d be able to vote safely for the candidates of my choosing. I take for granted that I will be able to do this for years to come. I take for granted that my vote matters.

The profound idea that the voice of every citizen matters (as is silence, as is struggle, as is what constitutes citizenship) is deeply embedded in American heritage. It is a heritage of contradictions. The elementary-aged students at the school where are teach have been practicing for weeks for a program they are putting on for local Veterans. The production culminates in “God Bless America,” sung at the top of third-grade lungs. It is not lost on me that the song was written at a time in history when these students woudln’t have been allowed to learn together. It is not lost on me that they are singing to a group of folks with mixed feelings about their own service.

The Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage award seeks to honor where we come from. Send us your poems of any form or style on the theme of American heritage, sibling-hood, or nature to pinesongawards@gmail.com. This history can be complicated to grapple with, and we are looking forward to diving into all that complexity. Be sure to check out the adult contest page for a complete list of submission guidelines.

As I searched for poems that spoke to the theme of nature, I was absoultely wrecked by this beauty from the late Sara Teasdale. And that search rabbit-holed me all the way to a reminder from Ailenn Cassinetto that There are no kings in America.

This judge for this year’s Mary Ruffin Poole contest is Shannon C. Ward. Riased in a renovated slaughterhouse on the outskirt of Wilmington, Ohio, she is the author of the poetry collection Blood Creek (Longleaf PRess, 2013). She received her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from The North Carolina State University in 2009 and from 2010 – 2021, taught composition, literature, and creative writing at Methodist University. A recipient of the Foley Poetry Award, the White Oak Kitchen Prize in Southern Poetry, and the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize, Ward has also been a resident fellow at Yaddow, Willapa Bay Air, Norton Island, Brush Creek Ranch, and the Anderson Center. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including New Ohio Review, Great River Review, Tar River Poetry, and others. In 2020, she became Executive Editor of Longleaf Press.

Lumpkin out.

The 2023 Contests Are Now Open!

And just like that, the submission period for the 2023 Pinesong Awards are open. Can you believe it? Have you selected the poems you’re going to enter? Still working on final edits?

This year, I am incredibly excited to announce a brand new contest – the Jean Williams Poetry of Disability, Disease, and Healing. Over the past few years, we have all been made more aware of what a precious gift health is, and what a luxury it was for many of us to not have been aware already. We invite you to share your poems of up to 36 lines about the body and how it betrays us; on the journey back to being well; on disbability and disease; on health – physical and mental – in all it forms.

Priscilla Webster-Williams, for whose mother the contest is named, offers her poem Occupational Therapy at the TB Sanitarium as a beautiful introduction to the contest. For more reading (which I know we all crave), check out this New York Times Article, highlighting the work of 10 poets with disabilities.

The judge for the Jean Williams Poetry of Disability, Disease, and Healing is Stacy R. Nigliazzo. She is a Houston nurse, an MFA candidate at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, and the award winning author of three full-length poetry collections, Scissored Moon, Sky the Oar, and My Borrowed Face (Press 53). She recently joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine where she teaches narrative practice in the Humanities Expression and Arts Lab (HEAL).

Lumpkin out.

World Poetry Day

I have a confession. 

Sometimes, I let myself get so wrapped up in how amazing a thing should be, that I don’t actually myself to do or participate in the thing, for fear that the actuality of it won’t live up to my own hype. Which is why at 8:00pm I finally had to tell myself, “Just write SOMETHING,” so that I didn’t let World Poetry Day pass without a check in with you.

That’s the post. Today is World Poetry Day, and I hope you were able to find a moment of celebration. Did you read a poem today? Talk to a poet? Did you pause in one of those striking instances where the world seems suddenly filled with surprise and beauty?

I celebrated today by reading the work of some amazing writers who thrill me with their poetry in print and performance: Ebony Stewart, Safia Elhillo, Mahogany Browne, and Desiree Dallagiacomo. (Is this a subtle shout out to Women’s History Month as well? Perhaps)

I wanted to share Safia’s poem “Self Portrait with Profanity” here, but the gods of formatting did not deem copy and paste an acceptable sacrifice. Nevertheless, the folks at Poetry Foundation will let you read it here

And. What’s a World Poetry Day post without a little prompt? 

This one is an adaptation of a prompt by Jacqueline Saphra,  and was the final prompt offered by the folks at NaPoWriMo last year (speaking of….who’s doing 30/30 with me next month? We can talk about it later.):

Write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.

I’d love to read your poems when they’re “finished”; perhaps I’ll share mine too. Happy World Poetry Day. 

Lumpkin out.

2022 Pinesong Award Winners

It is my extreme pleasure to announce the winners of the 2022 Pinesong Awards

Poet Laureate Award

Preliminary Judge: Anne McMaster
Final Judge: Joseph Bathanti

First Place: Two Variations on a Theme of a Tenement (as Viewed from the Window of a Moving Train With a Song Interposed) by Maria Rouphail


A praise poem, without the praise by Mary Hennessy
Injections by Kat Bodrie
making order of things by Lucinda Trew
Perseids by Kelly Jones
Nightsong by Joyce Compton Brown
Summer at the Boy’s Camp by Carlin Corsino
Take Jesus, for Example by S. L. Cockerille
Teaching the Blind Girl by Maureen Sherbondy

Alice Osborn Award

Judge: Kristina Erny

First Place: The Frog Prince by JeanMarie Olivieri

Second Place: Pioneer by Bradley Samore

Honorable Mentions:
Hard to Get by Maura High
Nearly Winter by Gary Phillips

Carol Bessent Hayman Poetry of Love Award

Judge: Angelo T. Geter

First Place: a walk on the beach the night of our 25th anniversary by Kelly Jones

Second Place: A Meal to Die For by Mary O’Keefe Brady

Honorable Mentions:
Love Wild by Laura Alderson
Joy Prom by Lee Ann Gillen

Katherine Kennedy McIntyre Light Verse Award

Judge: Jeremy Paden

First Place: When I Lost My Wallet by J. S. Absher

Second Place: Everyday Aphorisms for Lazy Speakrs by Jane Shlensky

Honorable Mentions:
Ode to Deoderant by Bonnie Staiger
Villanelle: To Sleep by Jeanne Julian
A Foodie Visits Normandy by Mary O’Keefe Brady

Mary Ruffin Poole American Heritage Award

Judge: Richard Smyth

First Place: Copperhead by Maura High

Second Place: Palynology by Lavonne J. Adams

Honorable Mentions:
A red bird in our psyce by Liza Wolff Francis
Thicket by Anne Myles

Poetry of Courage Award

Judge: Kerri French Nelson

First Place: Winter is for Wittering by Bonnie Staiger

Second Place: No More Voiceovers by Marjorie McNamara

Honorable Mentions:
Getting to the Bottom of It by Lee Stockdale
body parts by Thomas Jackson
My Sister Shows Me Her Childhood Bus Route by Joyce Compton Brown

Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness Award

Judge: Ashlee Haze

First Place: The Big Mistake by Thomas Jackson

Second Place: October 4 by Kelly Jones

Honorable Mentions:
Nude, Descending a Staircase No. 2 by Cathy Sky
Today the English Department Fills with Stretchers by Maureen Sherbondy
Decent/Descent by Nick Sweet

Bloodroot Haiku Award

Judge: Robert Moyer

First Place: busker’s hat by Debbie Strange

Second Place: spring graduation by Ed Bremson

Honorable Mentions:
exposed bedrock by Lorraine A. Padden
her rocking chair by Jennifer Hambrick

Joanna Catherine Scott Award

Judge: Mary Jaimes-Serrano

First Place: Without/With 2020/2021 by Jeanne Julian

Second Place: NOT NICE by Nancy Young

Honorable Mentions:
Writing after Seventy by Jane Shlensky
Marriage Twice by Martin Settle
Seasons Turning by Susan Spalt

Thomas H. McDill Award

Judge: Gaynor Kane

First Place: Litchfield Beach by Katherine Crawford

Second Place: Abuela by Maria Rouphail

Honorable Mentions:
A Prayer to the TEchnician WHo Will Upload Us to the Cloud by Benjamin Cutler
Lea’s Gown by Vivian I. Bikulege
The Waters by Alison Toney

Thank you again to all who submitted, and stay tuned here for more poetry, prompts, and provocations as the year unfolds!

Lumpkin out.

On rejection…

We are two weeks into 2022, and I have already received two rejections for work that I submitted last year.

As I prepared submissions to be sent to our contest judges, I held both of those rejections close to my heart. I know that every poem that will be read over the next few weeks was entered with care and hope. And though they each tell stories worthy of being heard, less than ten percent will be recognized by our judges. My heart already breaks for the people who will begin their year with rejection.

One of my favorite poets once shared with me that during one of his most successful years, his work was accepted into 24 of the journals/competitions to which he’d submitted. During the submission period that marked those 24 wins, he submitted to 300 places. I remind myself of that statistic whenever my work doesn’t find a home. I also remind myself that the same year he was shortlisted for a national book award – that rejections don’t always speak to the caliber of the poem, and they never speak to the value of the poet.

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us; I do not take it for granted.

As always, I invite you to spend some time with the 2021 Pinesong, and I’d like to share a piece of my own from the inaugural issue of Our Rhythm | Our Blues. Though the submission period has ended, I will be posting here throughout the year. I hope to see you at our meeting next Saturday!

Lumpkin Out. 

Ashley Lumpkin is a Georgia-raised, Carolina-based writer, editor, actor, and educator. She is the author of five poetry collections: {} At First Sight, Second Glance, Terrorism and Other Topics for Tea, #AshleyLumpkin, and Genesis. Her book “I Hate You All Equally.”, is a collection of conversations from her years as a classroom teacher. A lover of performance as well as the written word, she has been a competing member of the Bull City Slam Team since 2015 and currently serves as its assistant coach. She is one-fifth (and only Slytherin member) of the Big Dreams Collective and currently serves as the adult contest director of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Above all else, Ashley considers herself a teacher, poet, and fryer of food. She is a lover of mathematics and language. She loves you too.