Source: GMP. (Marketwire – August 11, 2009) – Sherry Olson of Plainfield, Vermont, is the winner of the 2009 Ralph Nading Hill, Jr. literary prize awarded annually by Green Mountain Power and Vermont Life magazine. Olson’s winning poem, entitled “The Paper Cutter,” describes finding a skilled tradesman who takes pride in his work and always wants to do the right thing. While looking for someone to sharpen her paper cutter, she finds more: “I imagine his heart, not the bodily pumping one, but the one folks like to say, of gold, burnished and soft, something, almost, I might carry in my pocket, reach in and touch.”Mary Hegarty Nowlan, one of the judges and editor of Vermont Life commented, “Ms. Olson’s poem was selected as the winner because of the simplicity of the language, which was clear and not overwritten. Her description of Ben Corliss, who lives in East Calais, draws you in and rings true as you learn about someone who may do something simple, but whose graciousness and kindness make you think about how you approach the world.”Olson grew up in North Carolina and Kentucky and received a BA from Earlham College. She worked as a teacher and volunteer coordinator at Central Vermont Adult Basic Education for more than 15 years and now leads poetry workshops and reading discussion groups for people of all ages, some under the auspices of the Vermont Humanities Council. Her favorite assignment has been leading a weekly poetry workshop at the Dale Correctional facility, which she did for many years. She believes everyone can write poetry, and helping people discover the thrill of writing poems is very exciting to her.Olson’s first book of poetry, “Breakfast At The Wayside,” came out in 2000. She is currently putting together a second manuscript of poetry.”The Paper Cutter” will be published in the fall issue of Vermont Life, which will be available in bookstores and on newsstands in late August.Olson will receive a $1,500 prize for the poem. The literary prize is named for the late Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., a Vermont historian and writer and long-time member of Green Mountain Power’s Board of Directors.This is the 20th year that the Ralph Nading Hill Literary Prize has encouraged writers in Vermont and it is now considered by Vermont writers to be one of the state’s premier literary prizes. Entries may include essays, short stories and poetry.The selection was made by an independent panel of judges: Mary Hegarty Nowlan, editor of Vermont Life; Tom Slayton, past editor of Vermont Life; Tony Marro, retired executive editor of Newsday; Alison Freeland, a 1994 winner of the Ralph Nading Hill, Jr., award for her story, “Shadbush”; Brian Vachon, retired vice president of communications at National Life of Vermont and a former Vermont Life editor; and Steve Terry, retired Green Mountain Power senior executive.The deadline for entries for this year’s contest is November 15, 2009. The contest is open to all Vermont residents, including seasonal residents and college students enrolled in Vermont colleges. Entrants may be amateur or professional writers. The focus of the work must be “Vermont — Its People, the Place, Its History or Its Values.” Entries must be unpublished and less than 3,000 words long. Staff of Vermont Life or Green Mountain Power and previous winners are ineligible. Send entries to the Corporate Relations Department of Green Mountain Power, 163 Acorn Lane, Colchester, VT 05446.
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