NC Literary Hall of Fame



Alan Michael ParkerGREENSBORO, NC—Alan Michael Parker of Davidson is the winner of the 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition for his poem, "Lights Out in the Chinese Restaurant."

Parker also won in 2013, making him the first two-time winner in the history of the competition. He will receive $200 and publication in a special supplement of storySouth.

“I love this poem,” said final judge Jillian Weise. “It begins in a realist mode with a speaker at a restaurant and then the lights go out. The poem makes a quantum leap into the irreal and necrodaisical: a word the poem caused me to invent so that I could describe the speaker’s listless attitude toward having died. Part nightmare, part ars poetica: the poem is superlatively unsettling.”

Alan Michael Parker is the author of eight collections of poems, including his most recent, Long Division, which won the 2012 North Carolina Book Award. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including three Pushcart Prizes, the Fineline Prize from the Mid-American Review, the 2013 and 2014 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition Awards, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.

His 2011 novel, Whale Man, was shortlisted for the 2011 ForeWord Reviews' "Book of the Year Award" in the category of Literary Fiction. He is also the author of the novels Cry Uncle and The Committee on Town Happiness.

Since 1998, he has taught at Davidson College, where he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 2007; in 2012, he was named Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English. He also teaches in the University of Tampa Low-Residency M.F.A. program, where he works with graduate student writers in both poetry and fiction. He lives in Davidson with his wife, the artist Felicia van Bork, and her Pecha Kucha alter ego, Candi Parker.

“I am thinking of something Jarrell wrote in Poetry and the Age,” said Weise. “’If you never look just wrong to your contemporaries you will never look just right to posterity—every writer has to try to be, to some extent, sometimes, a law unto himself.’ This poem is a law unto itself.”

Maureen Sherbondy of Raleigh was named First Runner Up for her poem "After the Funeral.” Melissa Hassard, who lives in the Triad, and Kathryn Kirkpatrick of Vilas, were named Honorable Mentions for their poems “At the End” and “Visitation,” respectively. Sherbondy also received an honorable mention in 2011.

Seven poets were named finalists: Lavonne Adams of Wilmington, Catherine Carter of Cullowhee, Terri Kirby Erickson of Lewisville, Dannye Romine Powell of Charlotte, Lynn Veach Sadler of Pittsboro, Andrea Selch of Durham, and Katherine Soniat of Asheville.

Randall JarrellThe Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honors the work and legacy of the poet and critic Randall Jarrell, who taught at what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for nearly eighteen years.

The competition is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and is administered by Terry L. Kennedy and the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at UNCG.

Final judge Jillian Weise is the author of The Book of Goodbyes (BOA Editions, 2013), which received the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a superior second book of poetry by an American poet. Her debut poetry collection, The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, was published by Soft Skull Press in 2007. Weise is also the author of the novel The Colony (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, 2010). Her other honors include a Fulbright Fellowship and the 2013 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award from BOA Editions. She teaches at Clemson University and lives in Greenville, South Carolina.

storySouth is an online literary journal dedicated to showcasing the best poetry (and fiction and creative nonfiction) that writers from the "new south" have to offer.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


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