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95 year old poet supports rising poets with contest

(Clinton KY) - Ninety five year old poet Dorothy Nell Harper has five books of poetry in her name. She didn't begin publishing her work until after her eighty fourth birthday. Harper, who has lived in Hickman County since she came to the county as a young bride, shares her love of poetry through her books and reading.  She wrote her first poem at seven years old. She didn't share her poems for many years until she was encouraged by the Clinton Women's Club to begin writing seriously.

Harper decided a year ago to reward students who could produce the best rhyming verse.She firmly and unapologetically believes that "poems should rhyme." She offered a $100 cash prize to the Hickman County student with the best poem.

This year, the Hickman County Arts Council supported Harper's contest by offering prizes for second and third place poems. Hickman County Schools faculty members monitored the writing and provided judges for the competition.

On Thursday, the Dorothy Nell Harper Poetry Competition winners were announced. All Hickman County High School freshmen gathered in the school library to hear the announcement.

The poet was under the weather and couldn't make the presentation. Her granddaughter, Amy Harper-Hogancamp, a Clinton attorney, presented the first place prize to Sarah Gardner for her poem "Fading Wonders" on behalf of her grandmother. Harper-Hogancamp spoke to the students' of her grandmother's extraordinary life and work. 

Second place prize of $50 went to Evan Jackson for "Grandmother's Love" and third place to Delaney Boaz for "Small Survivor."

Pettit reported that the students loved writing the poetry and were excited about the competition.

It's a report sure to gladden the heart of poet Dorothy Nell Harper.

The winning poems follow this article.


First place

Fading Wonders  by Sarah Gardner

My little butterfly,

I see that look in your eyes

It’s full of darkness and despair,

Your wings have been torn beyond repair

You feel really alone

Believing you’re on your own

But that doesn’t mean you cannot still fly

You just need something to help you get by.

Look around you

The stars that are the light

Still shine on this gray and stormy night

They’re trying to help you see

Just how amazing you are to me

I will mend your wings

One day at a time

I’ll watch as your pretty eyes

Gain back their shine

Nurse you back to health

That’s what I’ll do

What you don’t know is


You’ll be healing me too

Everything gets knocked down

Bashed and mistreated

All of this happens for a reason


No one knows what it is just yet

But stay with me and we’ll make our best bet

For you are my butterfly

With wings that glow so bright

 can’t look away from the beautiful light

That sweeps its rays all through the night

Please believe me

When I say I’ll never let you go

Because you, my dear

Are the most wonderful thing I will ever know. 


2nd place

Grandmother’s Love By Evan Jackson


Some of my fondest memories

Of being a child

Were playing with my grandmother

Letting our imaginations run wild


Cars and trucks

And crayons and fun

Her whole face smiled

When she saw me run

Long baths in the tub

Tickles on my toes

Soap in my hair

And suds on my nose


She rocked me to sleep

With a sweet lullaby

Giving “boo boo” kisses

When I would cry

Jolly and sweet

And kind and tender

Those are the things

I cherish and remember

Watching me grow

Has been her greatest joy

In her eyes I will always be

Her little boy


Made in heaven

And from above

The wonderful gift

Of my grandmother’s love


3rd place

Small Survivor By Delaney Boaz


The day we had been waiting for, all so glad

No one had expected things would go so bad

Early in the morning I awoke anxiously

Ready to see my sibling to be

We gathered in the waiting room, bursting with joy

Someone suddenly shouted, “It’s a boy!”

So beautiful and amazing, so precious and small

He had just made his entrance and stolen the hearts of us all


Later that night, the moment came

That changed our lives which seemed so insane

Unconscious and in need, the baby suffered a brain bleed

The doctor began to give orders and the nurses took heed


Too foggy to fly, we began to cry

With tears in our eyes, we realized he could die

In between seizures, the paramedics arrived late

The ambulance was loaded and took off to another state


Alive at the hospital, he was kept for weeks

We felt so blessed as we stroked his cheeks

We finally came home, what a wonderful day

To bring home this small survivor we called Trey.


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