The Shelter Island Library has announced the third annual Bliss Morehead Poetry Grant of $1,000, awarded each April to the winner of a poetry competition.

Applicants must be unpublished poets aged 17 or older and reside on the East End of Long Island (Riverhead and points east). This year’s competition will be judged by Irene Cornell, Charity Robey and Virginia Walker. This memorial grant is offered by Bliss’s husband, Mike Zisser.

The winner will be chosen by a three-member board of judges. The winning poems (including two runners-up) will be announced on April 5, and there will be a poetry reading at the Shelter Island Library featuring the winning poems on Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m.

Bliss Morehead was a resident of Shelter Island who dedicated much of her life to the art of poetry. As a student of poetry, and as a gifted poet herself, she sought to share “this most complex of cultural achievements.” She was the founder and curator of the Shelter Island Poetry Project, which produced the annual April Poetry Month readings at the Shelter Island Library, which revolved around yearly themes. The theme for 2024 is “Hope and Grace.”

When writing your poem, the library is asking poets to remember these words from Bliss: “I am a professional writer, editor and creative consultant, and over the years words have been very good to me. I, in turn, have been good to them right back — taking none for granted, weeding out the excessive and overwrought so the best may shine, becoming passionate over a ‘,’ versus a ‘…’ Style and diction and point of view matter a lot to me; I think about them on a daily basis.”

Bliss wrote tirelessly about what she called “the frustrating and occasionally illuminating work we all take upon ourselves when we are snatched up by the demanding nanny/muse and forced to admit that yes, — we are poets. Or are attempting to be poets.” 

To apply for this grant, register on the Shelter Island Library website or contact Jocelyn Ozolins at jozolins@silibrary.org. The deadline for entries is Friday, March 15, 2024.


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