A poet rediscovering Southern roots, Monica Weatherly wins the Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry for her poem “If I Had My Grandmama’s Praise.”
The Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry celebrates the diversity of Southern verse and encourages emerging poets. For her winning poetry entry, Weatherly receives $2,500.
Weatherly is a poet, writer and professor of English at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. Her work has appeared in Tulane Review, Plainsongs Magazine and Auburn Avenue, a biannual publication showcasing the intellectual and creative voices of people of color.
“This poem grew out of a need to not only go back to my Southern roots, but it also spoke to where I was personally at the time,” she said. “Winning the Willie Morris Award affirms to me that writing in your truth is what this art form is all about. I am incredibly grateful for this artistic space to share my writing.”
Susan Kinsolving, a prize-winning poet herself, selected the poem from a record number of entries.
“The honesty and history expressed in Monica Weatherly’s brave poem of praise offer the reader a lesson of resilience and uplifting faith,” she said. “It’s a startling, heartfelt poem.”
As the youngest-ever editor-in-chief at Harper’s magazine in New York, Morris inspired great writers and helped shape careers. As writer-in-residence at UM, Morris mentored students and aspiring writers, stimulating both their creativity and their passion for the written word. The Willie Morris Awards continue that legacy.