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.

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…

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.…

Mark Hinkley

Mark Hinkley

Caitlin ReganJuly 2, 20202 min read

Monarchs Like gray haired first graders, They sit all in a line in their small chair desks, silent and alone, under the stale blue fluorescence of the nursing home. Polaroid portraits border the bulletin board, that they themselves do not…

Olivia Hajioff

Olivia Hajioff

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20201 min read

The Sounds Before The Sounds I Knew Before Everyone says it’s quieter now, but there are more sounds: Not the bird’s song, but the first lift of its wing. Not a rustling of leaves, but the flip flop as one…