The 28th Statewide Poetry Contest had 423 submissions from all over the state, including Coffman Cove, Kodiak, Nikiski, Tok, Homer, Sitka, Juneau, Girdwood, Fairbanks, Nome, Ketchikan, Cordova, Skagway, Kenai, Soldotna, Wasilla, Ester, and more!
The Statewide Poetry Contest aims to encourage, publicize, and reward the writing of high-quality poetry in Alaska.
This year’s entries were reviewed and given honors by judge Jonas Lamb!
It has been such a privilege and honor to spend time within these poems. I am reassured to know that Alaskans of all ages continue to turn to poetry to try to make sense out of our beautiful yet messy lives. Throughout my own life, poetry has been one of the few constants, an inner compass, silently suggesting a direction, a way. These poems celebrate connection: to family and place, the importance of tradition, the pain of isolation and longing, and the medicinal properties of humor! I encourage every poet who shared their work to continue this intimate and intimidating practice of reflection, of seeing differently. There are many ways. Wander. Work. Wonder.Judge Jonas Lamb
Jonas Lamb is a poet, parent and literary advocate. He lives with his wife and sons in Juneau, Alaska. When not practicing parenting, praying for snow or painting his south-facing, storm-blasted, 100-year-old house, he works as a librarian. His work has appeared in Tidal Echoes, The Kent Collector and featured on 360TV’s Writers’ Showcase, 49 Writers, and Mudrooms. In 2017 he co-produced, A Braided Way: Poetry, Parenting & Place, an exhibition at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum with poet Aleria Jensen featuring original broadside poems paired with visual art made by and in collaboration with each poet’s children. He received an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and his creative thesis, What Turtle Blood Tastes Like: poems, was awarded a Jason Wenger Award for Excellence in Creative Writing.
In his work as a librarian and literary advocate, Jonas has collaborated with local and statewide partners to host events in support of Alaskan writers such as Don Reardon, Melissa Moustakis, Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, Vivian Faith Prescott, Marie Tozier, X̱’unei Lance Twitchell, Ernestine Hayes and Sherry Simpson. In addition, he has served on the editorial board for Tidal Echoes, a literary and art journal that showcases the art and writing of Southeast Alaskans that is sponsored and administered by the University of Alaska Southeast. Finally, as a parent and educator, he enjoys working with young writers and supporting their growth and experimentation.
Former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser once said, “I’d like to be on record as saying that anybody can write a poem that nobody can understand.” Kooser’s observations about audience and accessibility are central to Jonas’ work. “What good is this medium of language we work with if it requires laborious decoding by the average, already reluctant reader of poetry? Poetry, at its best, celebrates the simple wonder of everyday occurrences. The mundane becomes magical but without all the wands, sparkles or spells. At its best, poetry is understated, subtle, even sarcastic but fails when the magic is indecipherable.”
Fairbanks Arts is pleased to announce the following awardees:
“What the Geese Bring” by David Andersen (Fairbanks)
“Morning View From the White Wicker Rocker” by Helena Fagan (Juneau)
“As You Complete 8th Grade” by Diane Desloover (Juneau)
“Necessities” by Zeke Shomler (Fairbanks)
High School Division:
“Breakup” by Darcy Misel (Fairbanks)
“Whisperwind Asks” by Hayden Mullikin (Homer)
“Portrait of a Grandmother” by Isabel Dye (Homer)
“Stars” by Julia Wang (Fairbanks)
“Today” by Isabel Dye (Soldotna)
“I am From” by Levi Rankin (Soldotna/Kenai)
Middle School Division:
“The Flowers” by Ashlynn Smith (Craig)
“Bubble Bath” by Karlie Agnitsch (Craig)
“Star in the Sky” by Paige Schuerch (Nome)
“I am What I Eat” by Jamison Erickson-Ford (Nome)
“I am My Ahna” (Nome)
“The Job No One Wanted” by Dylan Walrath (Nome)
Elementary School Division:
“The Birthday” by Lillian Rust (Wasilla)
“I am From Moose Meat in the Kitchen” by Carson Thomas (Nome)
“Fox Haiku” by Lucas Pantelis (Nome)
“Friend or Foe” by Gabriel Dural (Eielson AFB)
“All the Things I’m From” by Hannah Harrelson (Nome)
“Magical Winter Paradise” by Jacquelyn Jones (Eielson AFB)
Please note: all poems presented here are the original creative work of the poets and should not be copied or shared without permission by the poet. For inquiries about any of the poems, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You may read the winning poems on the PDFs below:
Stay tuned on our website for the video readings of all the winning poems and sign up for our Literary Arts F.A.N. (Fairbanks Arts Newsletter) e-communications to stay up to date on all our literary happenings!
Thank you to everyone who entered the contest, to our judge Jonas Lamb, and congratulations once more to the winners of this year’s contest!