Winners of 2020 Vermont Writers’ Prize Announced and Published in Vermont Magazine
Prestigious Awards Include First-Ever Prize for Poetry and Are Collaboration Between GMP and Vermont Magazine to Honor Writing About Vermont
26 June 2020
COLCHESTER, Vt. – Green Mountain Power (GMP) and Vermont Magazine announced Erica Walch of Newfane and Mark Creaven of West Glover are the 2020 winners of the Vermont Writers’ Prize – Walch for her short story, “The Key Word,” and Creaven for his poem, “Time in Vermont.” Both works appear in the Summer issue of Vermont Magazine, and this is the first year a specific poetry honor has been awarded.
“The great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer famously stated, ‘Time and tide wait for no man.’ The winner of this year’s poetry contest similarly riffs on time, change, and missed opportunity in ‘Time in Vermont’. The poem perfectly captures the shared experience that comes with age; the understanding that nothing lasts forever,” said Joshua Sherman, Publisher of Vermont Magazine. “And the winning short story, “The Key Word,” celebrates our state’s motto, ‘Freedom and Unity.’ At its core, the story is about listening well, remaining open and working together. These are values on which we can all agree; all unite,” he said.
The growing number of poems entered in the contest over the last few years, and their consistent high quality, convinced the organizers to create an individual poetry prize starting this year. Creaven’s poem makes the Vermont countryside pop to life. A shed, an iconic silhouette along many Vermont roadways, is a central feature of this poem and Creaven was inspired by one in Waterbury. It begins:
It stood solid
In the middle of a disused field
On Route 100.
Its slate grey cedar slats and shakes
Weathered from the years
Of storm and heat.
Walch said that as someone new to Vermont, she spent time reading the state constitution, which inspired her short story about independent thought and representation in a small town.
Susan waited. In her one year in the town and two months as a selectman, she had learned to wait for Fred to come out with whatever it was he was going to say. Prompting him to continue just made him more terse. She practiced the calming breath she had learned in a yoga class back in Connecticut.
“Take our state motto,” he finally continued.
“Freedom and Unity?” she asked.
“It’s not freedom or unity.”
“It was a tough competition this year, and one of the best parts of this contest is seeing how the writers weave details about Vermont and its people into their work. As a judge you see the tremendous talent of local writers that bring this great state to life right on the page,” said Brian Otley, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at GMP and also one of the judges.
The Prize is a collaboration between Vermont Magazine and Green Mountain Power to recognize writing about Vermont and Vermonters, while honoring the literary legacy of the late Ralph Nading Hill Jr., a Vermont historian and writer and long-time member of Green Mountain Power’s Board of Directors. It is considered by Vermont writers to be one of the state’s premier literary prizes.
Entries for the 2021 Writers’ Prize are now being accepted. The deadline to enter is January 1, 2021. Entrants may be amateur or professional writers. Submissions can include essays, short stories and poems that focus on “Vermont – Its People, Its Places, Its History or Its Values.” Entries must be unpublished and less than 1,500 words long. Individuals may submit only one entry. Employees of Vermont Magazine or Green Mountain Power and previous winners are ineligible.
Vermont Magazine’s Summer issue is on sale now, read the winning entries.
About Green Mountain Power
Green Mountain Power (GMP) serves approximately 266,000 residential and business customers in Vermont and is partnering with them to improve lives and transform communities. GMP is focused on a new way of doing business to meet the needs of customers with integrated energy services that help people use less energy and save money, while continuing to generate clean, cost-effective and reliable power in Vermont. GMP is the first utility in the world to get a B Corp certification, meeting rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards and committing to use business as a force for good. GMP earned a spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the World list four years in a row (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020). J.D. Power’s 2018 and 2019 rankings put GMP among top utilities for customer satisfaction. In 2019 and 2020 GMP was named “One of the Best Places to Work in Vermont” by Vermont Business Magazine and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and was the winner of the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Vermont Business of the Year Award in 2019.
Kristin Kelly, Green Mountain Power