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Collected Poems from the Poetry Society of Virginia

Collected Poems from the Poetry Society of Virginia


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Congratulations to all the winners of the 2021 PSV Annual Poetry Contest! We are thrilled to present our yearly book of winners, including upper school students.

So, why publish a book of winning entries? Publishing not only validates poets, it gives others a sense of what wins. Having said that, we rarely use the same judges for the same categories. The standard is simple: whether the poem is strong, not whether it is to the judge’s taste.

The book is also entertaining, elucidating and useful as a work of its own.

What sort of work shines? How to choose a theme? The Poe category is wide open. Others, such as the Bess Gresham Memorial, have a theme.

Notes for future contests: if your poem did not place in any if the categories, you may resubmit it in a different category the following year. We try our best to mix-and-match the judges. We are asking winners of any single contest to skip a year before submitting to that specific category again, to give others a chance to shine.

“In “Virtual, in this Lonely Space,” the 2021 1st place winner, Erin Newton Wells writes,

A flowering branch touches jeweled water.

Tell me how it looks, you prompt,

and say

you never see it as I do until I say it,

the branch painted on silk and its wet

colors run. We carry on for weeks, months,

too long. ...

we carry on with what we can, patching

together the world we used to know.”

In a similar vein of nature, color and connectedness, high-schooler Lacy Powell writes,

“Her skin nurtures and is nurtured—of greens, blues, and yellows.

And every life has roots that run deep.

Every event leads back to her...”

Both poets use specifics, both touch on the universal. Their rhythms and line breaks differ. Yet both deliver a profound message of their own in just a few lines. Good poetry does that--creates and carries a message that crosses boundaries in a few, well-placed words.

I hope that this volume will delight, awaken, and inspire you.


Terry Cox-Joseph, President, 2021

Poetry Society of Virginia

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