If only one word could be used to define poetry, that word might well be life. Life is perhaps the best definition of this all-encompassing term, because poetry is the exploration of the human condition: joy, sorrow, triumph, despair, longing, hope, hopelessness, anger, love, forgiveness, empathy, a search for meaning, creative pursuit, and so much more.

Poetry oftentimes informs readers, but more importantly, it seeks to commune with them. In its exercise and form, it has something of a spiritual quality that transcends the mundane and, when well executed, crystalizes for us something of great value—a truth discovered or a perspective enlarged.

I. B. Iskov, founder of the Ontario Poetry Society, expressed poetry in greater detail when she wrote:

Poetry comes to us bringing life, and focuses on giving us a better understanding of life. Between poetry and other genres of literature there is one sharp distinction. Poetry writing is a friend to all writers. Engrossing and honest, poetry extends universally to all members of society. Poetry exists to communicate significant experience imaginatively and creatively, deepening our knowledge of the senses more poignantly. Poetry can be inspirational on the highest level…

With ‘poetry as inspiration’ in mind, The Children’s Writer’s Guild (CWG) is proud to announce The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize. Established to benefit older girls and young women working to develop their poetic craft, this competition invites beginning poets ages 12 through 19 to share their unique vision of life. The competition also fosters the understanding that young artists are not alone in grappling with life’s complexities. It is our hope that sharing their work can be of great support and inspiration to them and to their readers.

Selfie taken by Anna.

This competition is so named in honor of writer, musician, actress, and artist Anna C. Price, daughter of author and CWG contributor Marjorie Baker Price. Anna passed away at Christmas in 2014 at the young age of 37, but in those short years she accomplished a great deal artistically and academically. She was also a loving and devoted mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend to many.

This competition is so named in honor of writer, musician, actress, and artist Anna C. Price, daughter of author and CWG contributor Marjorie Baker Price.

Her first poetry anthology, Peripheral Blues in Static, was published at age fifteen and reveals a depth of thought well beyond her years. While a student at Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, NY, Anna presented her literary writings on gender issues at local and state academic symposiums and conferences. Additionally, she was a peer mentor and worked briefly at Americorps.

After graduating with honors from MCC, Anna received a full scholarship to the University of Rochester. The Children’s Writer’s Guild is proud to partner with the Monroe Community College Foundation in offering a $2,500.00 scholarship in her memory as part of The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize competition (Please click here to view competition submission guidelines, awards, and rules for all categories of competiton). Additional cash prizes will be awarded by CWG in distinct age groups and categories.

Anna was also lead singer for the popular Boston-based rock band The Silver Lining, which she co-led with her husband Matt Rhodes. Record producer for The Silver Lining, Tony Goddess, describes Anna as

… an amazing performer, singer and bandleader. When she stepped in front of the mic on stage or in the studio she had the rare ability to connect directly to the listener. She didn’t simply transmit notes and words but feelings, states of mind and emotion. She could have sang the phone book and you’d be riveted. She used this talent to take her band The Silver Lining to the upper echelons of the Cambridge/Boston music scene …
Tony Goddess

(clockwise from Anna) Greg Radawich (to the left of the band name), Matt Rhodes, Ted Collins, and Doug Fuller.

Anna’s husband Matt wrote many of the songs performed by The Silver Lining, and one of Anna’s favorites was Your Eyes Gave Your Heart’s Consent. Matt summarizes it as a song “about romantic ambivalence; sung from the point of view of someone observing someone else going through the motions – maybe in a particularly theatrical/maudlin way – of a relationship only for the sake of evading their own loneliness/internal sense of isolation vs. out of a genuine connection.” Click here to listen to Anna’s soulful performance of this favorite.

Anna was equally accomplished as an actress and was a member of Boston’s Harvard Longwood Players. She starred in lead roles for their productions of Cabaret and Steven Sondheim’s Company. Her interest in acting and directing was already apparent as a very young child, and Judy Ertischek, former director of Rochester’s Jewish Community Center Nursery School (now the JCC Wolk Children’s Center) shares her memory of Anna’s first day of school:

It was the fall of a new school year when Anna Price a jubilant two and a half year old, and her mother bounced joyfully into my office at the Jewish Community Center’s Early Childhood Center. As a brand new student she was a standout right from the beginning. Her over the top, precocious personality evident from the get go. In her classroom she was well liked and popular with the other young students, and teachers. Certainly not shy. When it came to any kind of class skit or songfest Anna was right there front and center ready to belt out a song, or to narrate a story. The song that she was most famous for at that time was her rendition of Tomorrow from the show Annie. She sure could belt that tune out, and she did.
Judy Ertischek

For those who never knew Anna, her mother Marjorie’s words share vividly her special qualities and describe the importance of The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize competition:

I cling to her brilliance, her compassion, her endless creativity, her great infectious laughter – and her writing. She was a writer, and a singer, and an actress, and an artist – and a writer – of poetry, of articles, of essays, of fiction…that was her profession when she died.

She endlessly helped people, as a peer mentor in college, advising anybody and everybody, friends, me, siblings, her husband…she was such a loyal daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law – always saw the best in people, was endlessly forgiving, caring and caring – and a dreamer. Her last dream to break was her dream of being a writer and college professor. Her deteriorating health and peaking economic struggles with eroding support forced her to drop out of the University of Rochester, where she hoped to complete the baccalaureate that was interrupted much earlier in her life – and then on to graduate school where she wanted to teach English…and write…

She was a visionary and a social activist, always for the underdog, which is how she saw herself, for she had many, many struggles and challenges in her life, physically, emotionally. She was 12 when her father died suddenly, surprisingly, and life in the ensuing years involved a lot of difficulty.

Painting by Anna C. Price

She was writing poetry acclaimed by her teachers as a child. “The language of the soul”, I’ve always believed, and she did too. She would have loved and been the “first in line” to enter this contest to acknowledge giftedness in teenaged girls. Those years were so pivotal for her – her artistic, creative gifts first shone very largely and brightly – and by then her complicated, hidden diagnostically, but not symptomatically, health challenges were beginning to be so present they were interfering with her daily life…and then there were economic challenges.

A contest like this one would have loudly delivered the message, Keep going! You are a wonderfully gifted young woman with special gifts that the world needs! The vision I have in creating this contest through multiple dialogues with my dear friend, CWG President and Cofounder Sheila Wright, is to transmute all that Anna so lovingly and generously gave to the world she travelled in during her short life to other teenaged girls who are gifted and, perhaps, have their own struggles, to empower and support what our world desperately needs. (Click here to read one of Anna’s poems).

A fable that I wrote when Anna was 15, Merinda and the Magic Mirror: A Tiny Tale of Transformation for All Ages, was published in 2013. Described as an empowerment fable for women and girls, Anna helped edit the final version of what became a book in 2006. My vision and calling for this contest dovetails with that vision of empowering teenaged girls through supporting their creative artistry, their “soul language,” to see that it can be publicly acknowledged and deemed worthy.

I miss her infinitely every day. All that she was, she did, she offered surrounds and speaks to me, but it never fills me…although I feel connected and nurtured in the midst of my grief and pain, I feel her, I hear her…and I feel her wish to continue to give to and support her artistic vision, others’ gifts…so there is a sense that does feel right to me of a circle, and connections that never die.

The most important thing to me since childhood has been reading any writing, any genre that moved me, that speaks to me. Writing is immortal, lifts us up, allows us to gain meaning that can be the most critical factor in our lives. In that spirit as well I support this offering, and with a sense of Anna’s great, brilliant smile and loving hand beside me…

Another beautiful portrait of Anna is reflected in this poem written by her dear friend Angus Merry:

Feeling alone and small
under a dark sky without you.
And with your departure,
I’ve tried to fill the void,
But tears, this emptiness, do not sate.
I look up at the black firmament,
and see my own vacancy
reflected back at me.
So, I’m left to my memories of you,
and am humbled.
Your talent filled me with beauty,
Your kindness gave me strength,
Your vulnerability taught me gratitude,
Your love excised my hate.
At my worst, you reminded me of my best.
Like stars giving light and wonder to the void,
You filled me at my darkest.
And here I am, again without you,
but where tears failed to heal,
memories do not.
And what once seemed a void,
I realize is still filled with you.
For as long as stars shine upon me
in these otherwise dark, quiet moments,
I feel you staring down at me
now grateful and not alone.

The Children’s Writer’s Guild is proud to partner with the Monroe Community College Foundation and Anna’s friends and family in establishing The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize. As Anna’s high school English teacher Jean Green states so beautifully: “I knew Anna. And to know her was to love her. Anna was poetry and prose personified.”
We invite you to read a collection of testimonial excerpts that celebrate Anna’s remarkable life and generous spirit.

The Children’s Writer’s Guild would also like to thank the following donors for their generous contributions to The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize:

Jeff Baker
Rachel Collins
Gail Ferraioli
Suzy and Jack Fitzgerald
Tony and Samantha Goddess
Sandy Mitzner and John Page
Joyce Palumbo
Tony and Andrea Quercia
Peter Robinson and Jean Kase
Megan Tarter
Barb and Dave Walter
Kay Whipple
Ted Wolner

Visit this link for the The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize submission guidelines and competition rules »

A special thanks to Anna’s dear friend Laura Evonne Steinman for creating the artwork for The Anna C. Price Poetry Prize, inspired by Anna’s poetry and artwork.

Sheila Wright
Sheila is a Co-Founder and President of The Children's Writer's Guild, and Editor-in-Chief of CWG Online. She provides professional editing services, and is pursuing a master's degree. Learn more about Sheila!