Adult Contest

Congratulations to the 2021 Winners!

You can hear the winners read their winning poems at the Kentucky State Poetry Society’s Annual Poetry Conference.

Meet the 2021 Contest Winners

Chaffin/Cash First Prize, for “Waiting in Line at the Piggly Wiggly”

MARIANNE PEEL is a poet, musician, and retired English teacher. She received Fulbright-Hays Program awards to further her research in Nepal and Turkey and to support her work as a teacher. She also served as an educator in China’s Guizhou province and as a volunteer at Kara Tepe refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. Peel’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals. Her debut book, No Distance Between Us, has just been published by Shadelandhouse Modern Press.

Chaffin/Cash Second Prize for “She Wolf: A Tribute to Harriet Tubman”

CRYSTAL E. BARKER grew up on a farm in the hills of Grayson, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Berea College and went on to earn her Master’s in Nursing at California State University, Los Angeles. She now serves veterans as a Registered Nurse in the VA Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been encouraged and inspired by her poet sister, Angela Thomas, who introduced her to the Kentucky State Poetry Society.


DON FLEMING writes poetry in retirement and resides in Crescent Springs, KY. His poetry has been exhibited at Centre College in EAT: A Literature + Photo Installation at the Norton Center for the Arts. His poems have been published in: For a Better World 2019; Parody Poetry; Pegasus; and the anthology These Summer Months: Stories from The Late Orphan Project.

Grand Prix First Prize, for “The Fourth Heart Sound”

DAVID HIGDON is a writer from Kentucky. He earned his BFA from Watkins College of Art and Design and works as a creative director. His recent work is published or forthcoming in Lucky Jefferson and Exposition Review. He lives with his family in Louisville, Ky.

Grand Prix Second Prize, for “Providing”

ELAINE PALENCIA is the author of four poetry chapbooks, most recently, How to Prepare Escargots (Main Street Rag Press, 2021); six books of fiction; and “On Rising Ground”: The Life and Civil War Letters of John M. Douthit, 52nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Mercer University Press, 2021). A longtime member of KSPS, she has poetry in such journals as English Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Literary Mama, Hummingbird, and Comstock Review.

Grand Prix Third Prize, for “What They Won’t Tell You on Yelp”

LINDA BRYANT is a poet and journalist who lives in Berea, Kentucky, where she runs Owsley Fork Writers Sanctuary. She has been published in literary journals including Courtship of Winds, Whirlwind Review, Gateways, Serving House Journal, and Willawaw Journal. Bryant has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and has won two national fellowships for her writing.

You can hear the winners read their winning poems at the Kentucky State Poetry Society’s Annual Poetry Conference.

Meet the 2021 Contest Judges

2021 Chaffin/Kash Prize Judge

makalani bandele

makalani bandele is an Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem fellow. He is the author of two full-length collections of poems hellfightin’ (Aquarius Press, 2011) and under the aegis of a winged mind (Autumn House Press, 2020), which was awarded their 2019 Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including: Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian LiteratureAnthology of Appalachian WritersPrairie SchoonerFoundry32poems, and North American Review. He has also received fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, Millay Colony, and Vermont Studio Center and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Kentucky.  

2021 Grand Prix Prize Judge

Marianne Worthington

Marianne Worthington is co-founder and poetry editor of Still: The Journal, an online literary magazine publishing literary, visual, and musical artists with ties to Appalachia since 2009. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, CALYX, Cheap Pop, and Grist, among other places. She received the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and artist’s grants from Kentucky Foundation for Women. She co-edited Piano in a Sycamore: Writing Lessons from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and is author of a poetry chapbook. Her poetry collection is forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky, 2022. She grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and lives, writes, and teaches in southeast Kentucky.

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