|Gina Atkins and Joseph Bathanti|
The four top winners in the student category of the Sidney Lanier Poetry Contest sponsored by the Lanier Library in Tryon are:
a. All conceited
b. All athletic
c. All cool
d. All in the same creative writing class at Charlotte's Providence High School.
You're correct if you said "d." The teacher of that remarkable class is Marva Hutchinson.
So kudos to Gina Atkins, 1st place; Ryan Herrera, 2nd; Leah Mell, 3rd; Christina Jaquith, honorable mention. And special kudos to Marva Hutchinson.
North Carolina poet laureate Joseph Bathanti judged the contest, which was open to students in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
A word on Sidney Lanier, who wrote the poem, "The Marshes of Glenn," and who died of tuberculosis in 1881 outside Tryon at age 39.
Lanier loved to write poetry. But even more, he loved to play the flute, and, so the story goes, he would gather reeds from river banks and fashion his own instruments. Lanier's great-grandson Robin Reid of Emory University once told me that Lanier concealed a flute inside his shirt sleeve when he was captured by the Union soldiers and imprisoned at Point Lookout, Md. When the guards weren't listening, he said, Lanier would play the flute for his fellow prisoners.
Once, said Reid, Lanier lay under an arbor and fell into a trance listening to the music of the leaves.