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Hewitt Wins Book Prize Competition

“Only What’s Imagined,” the third book of poetry by Geof Hewitt of Calais, won the poetry category in the ninth annual North Street Book Prize competition sponsored by Winning Writers, an online resource for poets and writers.

Judge Ellen LaFleche commented, “He has so much respect for the folks in his town, including working class people. He also observes the mundane; I love that a guy wrote about a clothesline! There’s wit and compassion here as well. He writes about his wife and child with loving observation without invading their privacy. As a Vermont non-native, his poetry honors the more taciturn style of many of his Vermont-native workers and friends. Yet I felt so much empathy and emotion filtering through. His poems about the oppression, exhaustion, and low-income issues faced by farm workers and other workers were powerful for me yet so imagistic. I felt their lives and struggles intensely.”

Hewitt’s book was among 1,862 entries for the international competition, which honors self-published and hybrid-published books in eight categories.

“I’m proud of that book, so last June when I saw the announcement of a competition for self-published books, I paid the $75 entry fee and sent it in. I didn’t have high expectations, but I thought it was worth the gamble, and I won a certificate, a tee-shirt, some prize stickers to adorn my books, and a thousand bucks!” Hewitt also received a marketing consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, three months of Plus service from Book Award Pro and advertising in the Winning Writers newsletter.

“Only What’s Imagined” got its start in 1999, when the Vermont Arts Council awarded Hewitt $500 to support its publication. He used the funds to engage Montpelier artist Maureen O’Connor Burgess in designing the book. In 2000 the book, with a generous introduction by Hayden Carruth and a lively full-color cover collage of Hewitt in his garden with Carruth, became available from the trunk of Hewitt’s car and “at better bookstores”.

Officially retired since 2009 (he was a language arts consultant for the Vermont Department of Education), Hewitt remains active, leading writing workshops and poetry slams in Vermont’s schools and libraries. He is Vermont’s reigning poetry-slam champion, having won the title in 2003 by one-tenth of a point and “still reigning,” he says, “because 2003 was the last year organizers assembled a competition.”

“Only What’s Imagined” is available for $15 (postage paid) by sending cash or a check payable to Geof Hewitt at P.O. Box 51, Calais, VT 05648.

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