The Laura (Riding) Jackson Foundation is delighted to announce the prize winners of our first annual poetry competition. We received over 160 entries inspired by COVID-19. Sean Sexton, Indian River Poet Laureate, presided over a panel of judges that included Carrie Adams and Janna Schledorn to select our winners. All entries were coded so that the judging would be blind. It was a very difficult decision for our judges, but we are thrilled to share with you the winners and their poems.

In addition to the winners below, we have selected a number of other poems and some writings from our K-12 competition that will be published in a print book and on our website soon! Stay tuned for that. Print versions will be available for a suggested donation of $10 at the LRJF Writing Center and at the Vero Beach Book Center.

Browse all of the winning poetry below, or head specifically to local winners or non-local winners.

Pat Draper

Pat Draper

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20201 min read

A Time Like This I never want to forget those twenty-six hours you last came home- The soft knock on my bedroom door at five in the morning, jumping on my bed sprawled across the foot telling stories of Baghdad…

Michelle Sharkey

Michelle Sharkey

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20202 min read

Pandemic Hands Moments between hands Lockets of memories Lesson of Life Palm reading in real time Pandemic hands Hands in a flurry, hurried hands A slaughter of safety, the practice of sorrow Grieving hands, losses that slipped right through our…

Jennifer Hawthorne

Jennifer Hawthorne

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20202 min read

COVID Calendar The Sierra Club calendar lies open on my desk— a Sandhill crane and her chick opposite a page of lined empty spaces. On the Illustrated Rumi wall calendar, poems pour like a waterfall over vacant white squares below.…

Anthony Nanetti

Anthony Nanetti

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20201 min read

An Essential Worker Opines She was waiting in line Masked and standing on a floor decal As I rang out preceding customers Hoping she would land at my register Which she did with a Fiji and SunChips Bright eyed even…

Rikki Santer

Rikki Santer

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20202 min read

Landmark The train like a wailing pronoun in the dark breath of night when quarantine responds to quarantine and I ask myself how do I get from here to the rest of the world or scale a kinder incline beyond…