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Acclaimed Poet Li-Young Lee Reads, Announces NC State Poetry Winners

Li-Young LeeCritically acclaimed poet Li-Young Lee visited NC State to announce the winners of the NC State 2014 poetry contest and to read from his own award-winning poetry. Lee, who judged the 2014 NC State Poetry Contest, read to a packed house in Caldwell Lounge Thursday evening.

Lee faced a challenging task as this year’s guest judge: 413 poems were submitted. The contest, sponsored by the NC State Creative Writing program and supported by the Barnhardt Family Fund, is the one of the largest literary competitions in the region.

Winner of the 2014 Poetry Prize:
Betty Ritz Rogers, “The Singing Bowl”  (Greensboro, NC)

Honorable Mentions:
Helena Bell, “The Slough Ages While We Stand Still”  (Raleigh, NC)
Carlene Kucharczyk, “Song”  (Raleigh, NC)
Kelly Michels, “Learning”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jennifer Whitaker, “Mother’s Foxes” (Greensboro, NC)

Don Ball, “Heliosheath”  (Chapel Hill, NC)
Aaron Ballance, “Sugarfoot”  (Greensboro, NC)
Gabrielle Freeman, “Brief History of a Town” (Greenville, NC)
Elizabeth Jackson, “For the Soldier Who Left the Army But Lives Ten Miles from Base”  (Raleigh, NC)
Dee Lalley, “Perspectives”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jerred Metts, “What Dad Said”  (Raleigh, NC)
Elizabeth Purvis, “Eight-Ball”  (Elon, NC)
A Kat Reece, “Thanksgiving”  (Raleigh, NC)
Jen Suchanec, “Symanski and Sons”  (Raleigh, NC)
Matthew Valades, “Old Couple Talking”  (Pittsboro, NC)
Matt Wimberley, “Elegy Where the Snow Speaks its Own Name” (Beech Mountain, NC)

Winner of the 2014 Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Tyree Daye, “Croker”  (Youngsville, NC)

The American Academy of Poets Prize (for graduate students)
Heather Bowlan, “A Great City”   (Raleigh, NC)

Lee’s great-grandfather was China’s first republican president, and his father, a devout Christian, was physician to Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Lee’s parents escaped to Indonesia, where Lee was born in 1957. Lee’s father spent a year as a political prisoner in Indonesian jails, and in 1959 the family fled Indonesia and embarked on a five-year trek through Hong Kong, Macau and Japan. Lee’s family settled in the United States in 1964.

Lee is the author of four books of poems, his most recent being “Behind My Eyes,” and a memoir, “The Winged Seed.” Poet Gerald Stern has praised Lee’s poetry for “the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal” it embodies, and Publishers Weekly extolls the “ringing clarity” Lee uses to excavate and confront his memories.

Lee has won fellowships from the American Academy of Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as the William Carlos Williams Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award.

Portions of this article appeared earlier in the NC State Bulletin.