ELIZABETHTOWN — A trio of local poets waged a verbal battle for the top prize Thursday at the second annual Poetry Contest at the Bladen County Public Library in Elizabethtown.
Donnie McAliister of Kelly, Jerry D. Jackson of Elizabethtown and LaTonya McDonald of Elizabethtown each appeared before a panel of judges to read their poem, then waited for the judges to consider a handful of factors — including the smooth flow of the poem, eye contact by the poet and the use of wording — to determine the winner.
When all was said and done, there was a clear winner.
In first place was McDonald, who read a poem titled “Me.” She won a basket that included a novel by author James Patterson.
In second place was Jackson, who read a poem titled “The last Fairy Tale,” and in third place was McAllister, who read a poem titled “God Made Us All.”
The judges for the contest were Shannon McDonald, the library’s assistant children’s librarian; Chrysta Carroll, staff writer for the Bladen Journal; and W. Curt Vincent general manager/editor for the Bladen Journal.
“I was hoping we’d have more entries, but it was good to see these three here,” said Kelsey Edwards, head librarian. “And we are grateful to Fowler Jewelry for the prize donation.”
The contest was held as part of National Poetry Month and National Library Week.
McDonald’s winning poem went as follows:
“There’s a need to fill this paper; with the things inside my heart. Although I’ve already picked up my pen, I don’t know where to start.
“A debate to start with life or love, I’m not sure how they’re inside. For my heart’s in so many places, there’s no-place for them to hide.
“For life is love and love is life, And to smile just means to cry. For the thing that brings you so much joy, can make you wish to die.
“For my every breath is agony, painful and intense. I wish that I could leave this place, I wish they’d recompense.
“If paint was the pain I feel, the color would be blue. If forgiveness was an eraser, I’d paint my life anew.
“If my tears are my words rundown, my eyes would be the pen. If my cheeks are the paper, my heart’s the poet within.
“I’m traveling outside my mind, but stuck inside my heart. Or am I stuck inside my head, my thoughts are torn apart.
“There is a place so desolate, it’s dark and filled with gloom. There is a place so sorrowful, tears flow like in a flume.
“There is a place so sunken, and lost at sea like a ship. There is a place so puzzling, I just can’t get a grip.
“For I feel so heavy-hearted, where my heart once did smile. For now it is so sorrowful, and sobbing like a child.
“Memories like a nightmare, from which I cannot escape. Torments my shattered throbbing heart, and forever resonates.
“Tremendous, massive, substantial is the discomfort that I feel. Shattered, broken, hollow am I, and only God can heal.