Juliette Merrolla, a relatively new voice on the Buffalo area literary scene, is the winner of Just Buffalo Literary Center's 3rd Annual Members Writing Contest. She received the award in this year's designated genre of poetry for her five stanza, sixty-nine line long poem "Landings," a reconfiguration of the Greek myth involving Daedalus and his son Icarus--the classic story of an ambitious father and his doomed son--in a contemporary family setting.
Twenty-four of the of the thirty-four entrants in the competition attended and read from their work before a standing room only crowd at the annual Just Buffalo Members Reading and award announcement last Thursday night at the Western New York Book Arts Center on Washington Street.
The contest was judged by Ansie Baird, one of the Buffalo area's most widely-published poets, a co-editor of Earth's Daughters magazine and the author of "In Advance of All Parting," winner of the 2009 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. In her introductory remarks to the announcement of the award, Ms. Baird noted that it was "a difficult decision" that involved "several re-readings" of the principal contenders. "I felt that as many as seven of the poems submitted were quite good," Baird noted, "In the end, I chose the poem that I felt was most successful at engaging the reader on many levels of meaning."
In addition to the annual Judge's Prize, Just Buffalo also awards an annual Audience Prize to the contest entrant whose poem is judged best by a ballot of those attending the reading. For the second straight year, that balloting resulted in a tie, and the Audience Award was presented jointly to John Lazer Okrent for his "New Year's Poem" and to Richard K. Olson for his anti-war poem "A Chance of Rain."
Ms. Merrolla, a Buffalo area native, attended and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Eastern Washington, before returning to this area. She currents works for Praxair, Inc. Mr. Okrent is a medical student at the University at Buffalo. Mr. Olson, Vietnam War veteran and retired Williamsville School System employee, is the author of several chapbooks of poetry, the most recent of which is titled "Large Bowls of Water."