Amanda Baxter

ELIZABETHTON— The ElizAlliance recently announced the winner of its April Poetry Contest, which was held in honor of National Poetry Month.

The winner is Amanda Baxter, 31, a resident of Elizabethton and the mother of three daughters, aged 11, 5, and 4. She is a native of Oklahoma, but has been a resident of Tennessee for the past 13 years, where she is raising her girls, who were all born in Tennessee.

Baxter had some pretty stiff competition. Shanasha Acuna, president of ElizAlliance said there were 21 submissions to the poetrycontest.

The judges were Jilian Reece of Carter County Drug Prevention, Mary Ann Owen and Harley Williams, both of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

Baxter received the top prize of $50 for winning the contest.

The judges obviouslyresponded to the poem’s message of maternal love and healing.

The poem is autobiographical. Baxter recalls a painful childhood and young adulthood, a victim of a family cycle that she was able to break out of thanks to love and happiness that was brought to her by the new life she was responsible for raising and nurturing.

Baxter said when she explained the poem to her oldest daughter, the girl was very touched.

“You mean I did that?” Baxter said her daughter asked her in surprise.

This is not the first time Baxter has won a poetry contest. The first time was when she was just 10 years old and her class at school was assigned to write a poem. Each student was asked to write about what they hoped the country would be like when they grew up. Baxter said her poem was selected by none other than former president Bill Clinton.

Baxter’s winning poem in the ElizAlliance contest follows:


Born a babe with endless potential

Variables in life, often exponential

Childhood brought pain, just a prelude

Empathy and love always seemed to elude

Aged but no wiser, acclimated to the harms

Hopeful for love, driven to a narcissist’s arms

Depression malignant, taking a soul

Dead but still walking, not in control

Reborn at the sound of a baby’s cry

Forced to life, body and mind do comply

Strength returns as parental love

The fate of the baby now taken hold of

Leaving what was once thought of as home

Embracing newness and many things unknown

New strength, new life, new smiles, now secure

Only happiness and love left to endureAmanda Baxter

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John Thompson covers Carter and Johnson counties for the Johnson City Press since 1998. He grew up in Washington County and graduated from University High and East Tennessee State University

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