Elizabeth Wilson, a poet from Sugar Grove, NC, has been named the winner of the 2021 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, an accolade sponsored by Carlow University’s storied and esteemed Madwomen in the Attic program.
Named for the late poet and Carlow professor Patricia Dobler, former director of the Women’s Center for Creative Writing and the Madwomen in the Attic workshops, this annual contest is open to women writers over 40 who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction or nonfiction. In total, 426 entries vied for this year’s top prize.
“My experience with ‘Madwomen in the Attic’ has been incredibly validating,” said Wilson. “I’ve been battling chronic health issues for quite a while, which have locked me in my own attic. Ironically, my health began to improve during the pandemic, which closed us all into our own small spaces. That shift allowed me to return to my writing, and I’m delighted that my first poetry submissions after such a long interval have been so warmly received.”
Wilson’s poem, “Your Sister Brings Me An Orchard,” was lauded for its singular, distinct voice and its willingness to risk.
“The speaker’s perseverating postures create a human shield around the beloved in stances that seem alternately greedy, shy and protective,” said Poet Lee Ann Roripaugh, the judge of the 2021 Dobler Award. “In the end, this is a complex and powerful love poem that explores themes of forbidden fruit, secret knowledge, and privacy—a poem that hoards its own sweetness until the reader, too, is consumed by a longing for sweetness.”
But the winning poem was not the only submission from Wilson. Her poem “Penitent” was also named as one of three honorable mentions, alongside “Trash Talk” by Lisa Caloro from Hurleyville, NY and “Counting” by Sandra Vrana of Mechanicsburg, PA.
“The Madwomen in the Attic writing program has been a cherished Carlow tradition for over 40 years and has empowered a diverse community of women writers from all walks of life,” said Carlow University President Kathy Humphrey. “The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is a stellar way to honor the ongoing legacy of women’s literature. Congratulations to Elizabeth Wilson on her spirit-filled and powerful poem!”
As winner of the 2021 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, Wilson will receive $1,000, a public reading in Pittsburgh, PA with judge Lee Ann Roripaugh in spring 2022 and round-trip travel and lodging for said reading. Wilson’s “Your Sister Brings Me An Orchard” will also be published in “Voices from the Attic, Volume XXVIII.”