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Eight winners from across state announced for 2019-2020 Poetry Unites Kentucky contest

Jeff Worley, Kentucky Poet Laureate 2019-2020, and Ewa Zadrzynska in coordination with the Kentucky Arts Council have announced the finalists of the 2020 Poetry Unites Kentucky contest for the best short essay about a favorite poem:

The winners are:

1. Vicky Easterly, from Frankfort, for the loving description of the family farm where she was raised and her sad resolve in leaving, after “The Peace of Wild Things” by native Kentuckian Wendell Berry

2. Susie Feinwieck, a retired manufacturing executive from Water Valley, whose religious sensibility was magnified by the sensory details depicted in “Pied Beauty” by Gerald Manley Hopkins.

3. Carrie Green, a writer from Lexington, who discovered “the little bird perched inside” her in gaining solace from “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson

4. Cherie Dawn Haas, an online content manager from Alexandria, in Campbell County, for connecting her own story of “loss as an art” with “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop.

5. Haley Kaelin, a student from Fort Knox, for the realization of the personal healing power of self-recognition depicted in Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love.”

6. Jonathan Miller, a lawyer from Lexington, for celebrating the importance to his own family of memorizing and reciting Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

7. Brandon Nakasato, a substance-abuse treatment professional from Bardstown, for his epiphany underscoring the sense of one’s own mortality in “Aubade” by Philip Larkin.

8. Rachana Rahman, a computer specialist from Frankfort, for highlighting Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Getanjali,” which helped her gain the courage to start a new life in a new country.

The judges agreed that it was a strong set of essays that showed a wide range of poetic interest. The jury selection members included:

1. Jeff Worley, Poet Laureate of Kentucky 2019-2020
2. Nina Darnton, NYC-based author
3. Shelda Hale, poet, from Lexington.
4. Edward Hirsch, poet and president of the Guggenheim Foundation
5. Richard Taylor, Poet Laureate of Kentucky from 1999 to 2001
6. Ewa Zadrzynska, writer and filmmaker

The director will choose four protagonists out of eight winners to address the richness and uniqueness of Kentucky in her 30 min long documentary Poetry Unites Kentucky.

“Kentucky, has always been rich in stories, even before statehood, when it was the new American frontier in 18th century,” wrote Jeff Worley introducing the Poetry Unites Kentucky contest. The sophistication of essays received proves his words right.

The Kentuckians who participated in the contest wrote essays about Wendel Berry’s poems, Emily Dickinson’s work. The other essays featured poems by Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Rabindranath Tagore, Dylan Thomas, John Donne, H.W. Longfellow among others.

Kentucky is the third episode in the series Poetry Unites America.

The Poetry Unites Kentucky series reveals how much Americans have in common when they open up through their love of poetry.

Using the harmonizing power of poetry, the series of 30-minute film portraits of chosen states and its residents show how easily society can feel united beyond political, racial, religious and cultural divisions.

The subject of each episode are selected through a statewide contest for the best essay on their favorite poem. The 30-minutes film features their life story with the poem in the background.

The contest invites the public to submit essays about their favorite poem and its role in their life. The Jury selects the best essays and the director, Ewa Zadrzynska, shoots portraits about the lives of the winners with her film crew. The result is a unique, heart-warming, and uplifting picture of the United States, an America United.

Poetry Unites was inspired by the U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem project. The series is more about people and places than about poetry, and the project’s primary goal is to unite people, while promoting poetry.

From Poetry Unites Kentucky

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