A work by Davis & Elkins College Professor of English Dr. Bill King has been selected as winner of the 2021 HeartWood Poetry Prize. “Pre-Carnal Knowledge” is published in a special issue on HeartWood literary magazine’s website.

The inaugural contest was judged by poet Mary Carroll-Hackett. According to guidelines, previously unpublished works were submitted without the author’s name or other identifying information.

King wrote “Pre-Carnal Knowledge” in 2019 and notes that “when a voice comes into my head as strong and clear as this one, I’ve learned it’s best to listen.”

In her remarks, Carroll-Hackett said, “From the opening words to the ending, this poem maintains an incredible balance between an almost breathless tension and a slow stripping of a life, of multiple lives, of the who they used-to-bes and who-we-ares. Haunting in its careful description, ‘Pre-Carnal Knowledge’ followed me for days after first reading, like a flash of a remembered film, or a glimpse through a night-lit window. Wonderful work.”

As part of his winnings, King received a cash award and an opportunity to serve as the final judge for the 2022 HeartWood Poetry Prize.

An online literary magazine associated with the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program at West Virginia Wesleyan College, HeartWood features creative work from around the world that delves into the heart of humanity.

Currently on sabbatical, King had several other works published this summer. “Promise Made in Total Darkness” appeared in the online literary journal Change Seven, while “Living Wall” and “A Song for the Doe-Thief” were published in Susurrus, an online literary arts magazine of the American South. King was especially content with the publication of “Post-Surgery” in Schuylkill Valley Journal Online.

King said he is especially grateful to the Office of Academic Affairs and Department of English for supporting his summer to fall sabbatical, without which this work could not have been completed.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. King,” said D&E Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Rob Phillips. “As his students, colleagues and peers know from his previous work and his public readings, Dr. King’s poetry consistently illuminates our human experiences and has the power to both captivate and move his audience. Here is hoping that this award serves to bring his poetry to many more readers and listeners.”

King is a Pushcart Prize nominee who has published his poetry and flash prose in many journals and anthologies. His first chapbook of poetry, “The Letting Go,” was published in 2018. He joined the D&E faculty in 1996 and serves as the chair of the Division of Humanities.