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.

Christina Kilby

Christina Kilby

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20201 min read

Safekeeping Where do all the touches go for safekeeping? If I could collect them in a jar Like a child’s treasure I’d bury them in a secret place And take you there one day Lead you by the hand To…

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…

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…

C.M. Clark

C.M. Clark

Caitlin ReganJuly 1, 20202 min read

In the Valley of April Oh you pity the dead, the unintended lucky dead, who lay in their makeshift morgues, quiet now outside their cottoned ears. Gone the insect whirr, the thrumming ventilators breathing in the unclenched April. Oh the…

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.…