Prize in Southern Poetry: Congratulations to the Winning Poet!

As a continued effort to show our support for Southern culture and arts, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails hosted its 4th Annual Prize in Southern Poetry, accepting poem submissions from thirteen southern states. This year's poems were judged by none other than the author of poetry book Songs and Ballads and esteemed Professor of English and Creative Writing at Furman University, Lindsay Turner. Among the poems, Professor Turner selected, "Hindsight," by Heather Elouej of Johnson City, TN. 

Heather is Editor of The Tusculum Review. She earned a BA in English (Literature) from Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Washington University in St. Louis. Her works of short fiction have appeared in Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, Salt Hill, Cimarron Review, Unstuck, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Johnson City, Tennessee and teaches writing and literature courses at Tusculum University.

Heather Elouej | Johnson City, TN
She culled wisdom from the swell
of bee-stung skin, from the violet
underneath of an eye, the bend
of hunched spine, in the comminuted
fracture of arm, hairline fissure
of rib. She stockpiled horse sense
from sore sole, from pockmark, from
stretch mark, from sickle-shaped scar,
from pot belly, growling belly, smacked
mouth, from loud mouth, open
legs, from scald-burn, from taste-
bud, from pasture land, the sky-
line, from fact check, the moon.
Narrative of "Hindsight"
Professor Lindsay Turner
"Hindsight" is a beautiful exploration of the wisdom that comes from harm and hurt. But I love that this poem also tells us how wisdom comes from looking in general: from looking closely at the body in its patterns and imperfections, from looking at the earth, from looking inside and up and out at everything that surrounds us. I love the sounds of this poem ("culled" and "swell" in the first line, for example): these lines direct us not only to look hard at the damaged or imperfect body but to dwell with and savor the words through which its knowledge comes. In cataloging the wear and tear of age and use, this poem builds us a lovely shelter in which to linger for a little while. It asks us to look at and learn from what's closest to us and what's farthest and most distant, carrying us from "the violet / underneath of an eye" all the way to the fields, to cold hard facts, to the moon.

The White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails Team congratulates Heather Elouej for her success & appreciates her contribution to this year's Prize in Southern Poetry, as well as all those who submitted.