Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alan Michael Parker's Winning Poem "Superlatively Unsettling"
Alan Michael Parker

Alan Michael Parker, a Davidson College English prof and the author of eight collections of poetry and three novels, takes first place -- for the second year running -- in the prestigious Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. His winning poem: "Lights Out in the Chinese Restaurant."
The speaker in the poem is enjoying his meal. The lights go out. Poof. He's dead.
"I love this poem," said final judge Jillian Weise of Clemson University in Greenville, S.C. "It begins in a realist mode... makes a quantum leap. ...Part nightmare, ... the poem is superlatively unsettling."
Parker's quantum leaps are legendary. So I asked him: How did this particular leap occur?
"What we see when the lights go out becomes," he says, "naturally, a riff upon the afterlife's possibilities, as well as upon the mundane. I'm often interested in these kinds of inquiries, in finding metaphysical news in physical experience."

Parker, winner of numerous awards for his writing, has taught at Davidson College since 1998. He also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.
Marlene Sherbondy of Raleigh was named first runner up in the competition for her poem, "After the Funeral." Melissa Hassard of Greensboro and Kathryn Kirkpatrick of Boone won honorable mentions for their poems "At the End" and "Visitation."
The Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition honors the legacy of the poet and critic Randall Jarrell, who taught for 18 years at what is now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The contest is open to residents of North Carolina as well as to members of the North Carolina Writers' Network.