Top: Riley McNew, junior first place winner of the 2019 Lincoln County Poetry Contest. Photo by Tracy McNew, The Montanian. Below: Peter Leusch, adult second place winner. Photo by Ashley South, the Montanian
By McKenzie Williams
The 13th Annual Poetry Extravaganza was held on Wednesday, May 8 at Aunt T’s Coffee Corner. The event marked the culmination of this year’s Lincoln County Poetry Contest. The contest has been held every April since 2007 in recognition of National Poetry Month.
All county residents are encouraged to participate by submitting poems to any Lincoln County Library branch during the month of April.
This year, a total of 139 entries were received from around Lincoln County, and the contest’s judge was Montana state poet laureate, Lowell Jaeger. The Montana poet laureate is an honorary, unpaid position given to “a citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment,” according to art.mt.gov. Poet laureates serve two-year terms, and Lowell’s term began in August of 2017.
Jaeger was tasked with the tough job of reading each poem and choosing winners for each of three categories: Adult, Junior, and Youth.
“We don’t necessarily always chose the poet laureate to judge the contest. We look for a recognized professional poet. We want a judge that has the authority and experience to critically look at each entry for style, imagery and content,” said Alyssa Ramirez, Director of Lincoln County Public Libraries.
This years contest winners were:
- First place – Joe Barcomb of Libby for “Vermont Spring Remembered”
- Second place – Peter Leusch of Troy for “Garden Coyotes”
- Third place – Latimer Hoke of Eureka for “Breakfast in Bed”
- Honorable mention – Sarah Barrick of Libby for “Libby Loggers…the originals”
- First place – Riley McNew of Libby for “Amazing”
- Second place – Alden Hill of Troy for “A Good Dog”
- Third place – Vivian Cole of Libby for “Spring”
- First place – Ian Kumle of Eureka for “Dreams”
- Second place – Holly S. of Eureka for “Sex Ed”
- Third place – Sidney Rusdal of Libby for “Hope”
- Honorable mention – Jenni Fosgate of Libby for “Untitled”
“I’m always amazed at the talent I see every year. There is a lot of creativity in this county, even for poetry. I often skim through the entries before I send them to the judge and the honesty in some of them, especially youth, can floor you,” said Ramirez.
Events like the annual poetry contest can be beneficial to encourage creativity and self-expression, not only for kids but for adults as well.
Ramirez said, “It’s especially rewarding at the Poetry Extravaganza when we pass out awards. The kids are proud and the parents even more so. Some teachers will make sure winners are announced during the morning announcements. That’s when I feel how a simple poetry contest can affect the whole community.”
Now that the poetry contest has concluded, the libraries are gearing up for their Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme will be, “A universe of Stories.” It will kick-off on Saturday, June 1 with an ice cream social in Libby, and on Friday, June 7 with a BBQ and book sale in Troy.
Read this year’s winning poems on page 10