Former Shelburne resident Jenny Land was taken by surprise when she received a call from a Reader’s Digest representative back in March announcing her good fortune. Her poem, “After the Death of Their Child,” had been selected from over 4,800 entries as the grand prize winner for the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Contest.
“I was really excited that Readers’ Digest chose my poem for national recognition,” Land remarked. “A friend who is also a writer initially told me about the contest. As a creative writing teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy, my first instinct was to post the contest to my students. It wasn’t until later that I decided to enter the contest myself. Once I submitted the poem for consideration I was so busy with my life that I forgot all about the contest until I received that call.”
Land chose the poem “After the Death of Their Child,” inspired by the story of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, as her entry because it was her best work. “I also thought that the domestic quality of the poem would appeal to the publication’s readership.”
Raised in Shelburne, Land graduated from CVU and studied creative writing as an undergrad at Dartmouth College and as a post-grad at the University of Oxford and the University of St. Andrews. A professor of creative writing at St. Johnsbury Academy, she has settled in Peacham, Vt. with her husband and 6-year-old twin daughters.
Two years before winning the Reader’s Digest Poetry Contest, Land, published her debut novel, “The Spare Room,” a pre-civil war story of Vermont life in 1843 through the eyes of 13-year-old Susannah Allen.
So what’s next? For starters, Land will take a 16-month sabbatical in England with her family. “There are so many interesting things that I want to do and not enough time to do them in. I hope to work on writing poetry and will use the contest prize money to take a special family trip to the Globe Theatre in London to introduce the girls to Shakespeare.”
This special Reader’s Digest issue celebrating National Poetry Month is on the stands now. Be sure to pick one up, and more importantly, congratulate Land on her award.
At right, Land’s grand prize winning poem.