While many of are home bound and practicing social distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19, now is the time for creating! So, we’ve extended our Poetic Excellence Awards deadline to Tuesday, March 31, which is our last planned day to be closed to the public.

During this stressful time, self care is important. Embracing the arts, and writing poetry in particular, is great for relieving stress and channeling emotions into a therapeutic, enriching outlet. Use this awards deadline as motivation to put your thoughts to poetic words and as a fun and creative goal to work toward.

Competition Details
PCCA is now accepting entries for the annual poetry contest. Anyone may enter; however, only Perry County residents will be eligible for the title of Perry County Poet Laureate. Other prizes include First, Second, Third, Honorable Mention, and the Kenneth P. Allen Award for poems written in any form with the theme of “Exposed,” chosen by last year’s KPA Award winner Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle.

Entry Guidelines

2020 Awards Ceremony

Thursday, Sept. 24

Location TBD

Winning poets are invited to read their poems during the awards ceremony. Stick around for Coffeehouse afterwards!

2019 Award Winners
Perry County Poet Laureate

Lynne Reeder, “How to Analyze a Poem (Or, How to Diagnose the Damage)”

First, take stock of format.

Check the use of white space, the

v              o              i               d

between each rib.

Discover what is being said

                                                                        the body carries trauma

by what is left unsaid.

Focus then on punctuation.

Where are you asked to pause,


fully halt,

                                                                        pressure points like commas

and where do words simply move


wholly unleash

                                                                        handprints bone deep

to wind about your wrists

Are you told what is meant

or must you leave room

for interpretation

Do you need to look for what is unsaid

                                                                        skin unraveling in ink

beneath what’s being said?

And then, perhaps, after this,

you are ready to roll the language

about your tongue.

Find all this figurative

                                                                        living between commas

inside the literal.

Only then can you savor

what is offered to you, what

d              r               i               p              s

down the page

across fingers

through veins

taste what remains

                                                                        the body carries trauma

long after

the end.

Kenneth P. Allen Award (Theme: Night)

Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle, “Midnight Sidewalk”

Rough with wrath and pebbled grey

as taut as an elephant’s hide

on the Savannah

black sheep of the family concrete

an old animal

sister of the streets

lying in uneasy rest

her condition: lamentable at best

depraved, pathetic path

feels its prey creeping up

clip clop clip clop

a creature of the night

high heels dominate the beast

crunching down like teeth

to the beat of their quickened pace

another one escapes

First Place

Samantha Bise, “The Scene”

You don’t wake up knowing that today

will be one of the worst days of your life.

You just move through the hours, until you are caught off-guard

by the spinning blue and red lights from the side of the road,

grabbing your attention like stage lights snapping on,

while the rest of the world goes dark.

It felt like just like a movie scene,

so it was only fitting that it was Friday the 13th.

A cinematic close-up of your life turned film,

the side of the road turned horror story on display.

I pulled over at the sight of you,

and suddenly the street became stage.

I stood there as they read you your rights,

handcuffed your hands behind your back,

two arm lengths in front of my eyes,

searched your car for more paraphernalia,

proof of another non-recovered recovering addict.

I knew you were waiting for me to say something,

but I was never given this script.

The audience was waiting for my punchline,

as your head was pushed into the backseat

of a cop car with tinted windows,

feeling too much like a curtain closing.

I didn’t know my lines, but I ad-libbed for the sake of you

by mouthing “I love you” to you through the glass.

I wanted you to know that being locked up alone

doesn’t mean you are alone.

I wanted you to know that I wasn’t mad.

I wanted life to be like a film,

so I could edit your bad decisions out,

turn them into bloopers we could laugh about.

I never even auditioned for this part,

but my name is still rolling in the credits,

my name is still rolling off the tongues of the critics,

as if I could have somehow stopped you

from making the decisions that led us to this.

Spoiler alert:

there are only a few ways this storyline ends—

an epilogue of you behind bars,

an institutionalized life as the backdrop,

or a eulogy soundtrack playing

as all the extras we forgot about reappear to take a bow.

Roses placed upon your chest

as I exit stage left.

Second Place

Ingrid Mara Hansen Guderle, “Insects”

It is not what anybody knows or expects

unlike other diseases when they infect

it does not show

by some, it has been described as an insect

crawling and fluttering wearily inside

It brushes its wings against the door

where memories are stored

like butterfly kisses from the one who swings the fist

once kissed

the door begs to be unhinged

once disturbed

the night seeps in like smoke

through the key hole

wherein, cracking open

plumes of “better left forgotten” mushroom up

something has awoken

you will not see the struggle in my face

or hear me choke and whimper from the heat

I will not bleed or scream in agonizing breaths

or pace the room in fear of defeat

the only symptom I present

Is the ability I have to drive you mad

and with every day that you resent me more

the insects multiply behind the door

Third Place

Lynne Reeder, “Impressionism”

portrait: young girl sits

painting her desk with

amber locks, staples her eyes

to the textbook and

decoupages her depression across

the blank lines of a worksheet

she will fail to hand in.

teacher notices this art in formation,

offers a paintbrush

the girl hasn’t learned to hold.


still life: young girl opens

the frame of a medicine cabinet, spills the

amber bottle from its shelf, cradles twenty tablets

like poems in her hands

lines her throat with their palette,

swallows around the clay of regret

coating her stomach, the lump

she has failed to shape.

girl stares in the mirror,

realizes this is not

a watercolor action.

the oil acrylic seeps into her veins.


mixed media: young girl flourishes

out of manila folders, rips up

diagnostic reports to shape flower petals,

presses them between pages.

teacher shows girl how to hold the paintbrush, how to

flick her wrist and blend

colors, and girl emerges with

amber locks woven with heart strings,

canvas tattered, taped, tilted,


teacher notices this art in formation,

knows the layers,

offers  stanzas

the girl drips from her fingertips

while she learns what it means to live.


photograph: young girl and teacher,

side by side,

a story unframeable.

Elizabeth Yon-1999
Ed Rech-2000
Melody Davis-2001
Joy Campbell-2002
Ann Benvenuto-2003
Melody Davis-2004
Melanie Simms-2005
Cordelia Jensen-2006
Cordelia Jensen-2007
Beth Jacobs-2008
Sandra Philpott-2009
Samantha McAlicher-2010
Fritz Williams-2011
Sandra Philpott-2012
William Davies Jr.-2013
Kenneth J. Little-2014
William Davies Jr.-2015
Lynne Reeder-2016
William Davies Jr.-2017
Lynne Reeder-2018
Lynne Reeder-2019
Meet This Year's Judge - Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Jeanne Marie Beaumont is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Letters from Limbo. Her other books are Burning of the Three Fires, which was a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, Curious Conduct, and Placebo Effects, which won the National Poetry Series in 1996. She is also coeditor of the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Good Poems for Hard Times, Harvard Review, The Manhattan Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2007, and many others. She won the 2009 Dana Award for Poetry. She currently teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd St. Y and has also taught for the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine, Rutgers University, and the Frost Place. She was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs and now resides in Manhattan.

Website: www.jeannemariebeaumont.com

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