Jim Simmerman

Jim Simmerman at Uptown Billiards. 

The estate of Jim Simmerman recently announced the winners of its 13th annual Jim Simmerman Poetry Prize. All poems were read with the names and schools of the poets withheld and judged solely on the considerable merits of their lines.

Each year the contest grows. This year featured another record number of submissions. Teachers such as Terry Wilson, Doug McGlothlin, Annie Watson, Kathi Baron and others from Coconino  and Flagstaff high schools have inspired both their talented students and further participation in the Simmerman Prize.

“I’ve always been reluctant to think of poetry as a competitive sport, so it’s with some reservations that these poems are ranked with numbers and announced. Poetry is not a 100-meter dash where the winner is clearly deciphered and precisely timed,” said James Jay, literary executor of the estate. “Poetry by its very nature of being designed to be read multiple times does not lend itself to an exact placement, for we never know where the finish line rests. A poem has no end. It’s read and enjoyed over and over again.”

Miles Waggener, an award-winning writer, author of four books of poems and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska Omaha, judged this year’s contest. Waggener has many connections to Flagstaff and northern Arizona, including having taught English and Spanish at Page High School and in the English Department at Northern Arizona University. An NAU alumnus, Waggener brought his years of experience and joy of reading poetry to the task of placing these poems.

The Jim Simmerman Poetry Prize for Poets of Flagstaff district high schools is made possible by a generous donation from Kim Holland and the Authors in Schools program she founded, as well as the Northern Arizona Book Festival. Jim Simmerman was a nationally-renowned poet and Regents Professor at NAU. He often volunteered to teach poetry workshops in local high schools over the course of his long career.

Jim Simmerman Poetry Prize 2019 winners:

First – Aslihan Hadinoglu, "Dede" (Coconino High School)

Second – Kyona Blackhorse, "Going Through a Window" (Flagstaff High School)

Third – Sarah Chatter, "Shinali Asdzaa" (Coconino High School)

Honorable mentions:

Tiana Bennett, "Piki" (Flagstaff High School)

Mya Trent, "Bare” (Coconino High School)

Ashley Tittelbaugh, "Breathing" (Coconino High School)

Jacob Sansone, "The Art of Striking an Arc" (Flagstaff High School)

Jericho Scott, "Gift" (Flagstaff High School)

Jaqueline Slack, "Floret" (Coconino High School)

Katlyn Nakai, "Look Away" (Flagstaff High School)

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