I’m humbled and ecstatic to announce that I won FIRST PLACE in the 2020 Tennessee Williams Poetry Contest! The annual prestigious contest is held every year by the Key West Historical Society as part of a week long celebration of renowned prolific American poet, playwright, writer, Tennessee Williams.
Submitted poems must adhere to a specified theme each year. The theme for the contest in 2020 was “The Women of Tennessee Williams”. This could include referencing any of his literary characters or women in his personal life.
Having read most of his works, I was already familiar with many of his literary characters. So as background research to write this poem, I dug deep into the history of his personal life. That’s when I learned about the relationship with his sister, Rose. When I dove further into her history, I learned that she had quite the tragic life due to mental health issues. While they were close as children, their relationship was complicated throughout adulthood.
When he left his home to pursue his career, she was left behind. At her mother’s request, she was eventually lobotomized and kept in a mental institution, unable to function on her own. Tennessee was torn with guilt for what happened to her, which naturally bled into his art. In fact, several of his most famous female characters are based on her. Particularly “Laura” from The Glass Menagerie. He sent money to support her care for the rest of his life and visited her from time to time.
Based on this, I decided to write a poem about their relationship as one might observe from his point of view to answer this question:
If I were an omniscient observer, how would I describe what was in his heart about his sister?
The answer: “A Rose Without Thorns”
I’m so glad to FINALLY be able to share this fantastic news with you! I found out about it in early March 2020 just after the quarantine started. Unfortunately they had to cancel the festival, so they deferred the announcement to this year. Hopefully I’ll get to partake in the festivities with them at some point in the future.
To learn more about the Key West Historical Society and their annual Tennessee Williams Event, you can visit their website here: https://www.kwahs.org/education/twbc
Thank you for reading! ✌🏽👍🏽
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