headRThe Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center was thrilled at the number and quality of this year’s student submissions. Over the year our founding member Jacquelyn Lazo shared the project with friends. Upon hearing about our anthology, seeing last year’s edition, Tim Green, editor at Rattle, a national poetry magazine, offered to judge our contest.

Given the short time between submission deadline and the start of the Virginia Festival of the Book, we were racing the clock to process over 100 submissions and select ten finalists from so many amazing pieces of work. Not only did Tim read the finalists Jacquelyn selected, turn them around and choose a winner without delay; Tim took the time to write a personal comment to our young winner. We are sharing the comment online, but will not be publishing the work online in order that our student can submit her work. You can hear her read at our Open Mic on April 24th, or purchase a copy of our Crossroads III anthology.

We appreciate and are honored by the outreach, and our student was moved by the personal attention and comments for her work. We hope to see more of this young woman’s work, and encourage teens to consider submitting to the Young Rattle contest, deadline June 15th!

The heart of writing is always voice—the feeling that someone​’s​ authentic voice is speaking to you while reading, so that you can lose yourself in the storytelling, and “Missing Child” has a wonderfully genuine voice, establishing itself in the self-conscious corrections of the first few lines. The whole poem is very imaginative, calling  the ortolan “flying, singing cups of tea,” the chefs “blinded by delicacy.” Those aspects alone would be enough to make it a great poem, but revealing at the end that it’s a response to the murder of Hannah Graham brings it to a whole new level of meaning and importance.   –  Tim Green

We hope readers will seek out this poem, and if it makes a more public appearance we will share links.