— FIRST PLACE —
2017 SUNSHOT BOOK AWARD™ FOR POETRY
Shot In The Head focuses on a piece of history that reverberated throughout my life. Many of the poems refer to the 1936 shooting of my grandfather, Edwin McElroy. He was shot in the head by the husband of his lover, which resulted in my grandfather’s partial paralysis. There was a trial in which the defendant, prominent local businessman J.J. Harding, was acquitted. My grandfather died several years later at the age of 42. This dramatic event must have colored my grandmother’s lifelong distrust of others.
Poems often seek to understand something more deeply and many of the poems here are my effort to understand this proud, deeply flawed woman who was so central to my life. Shot In The Head began as a book about a tragic incident, but as I wrote, it became less about this one violent event and more about grappling with the moral paradox of a grandmother who was steeped in bigotry and intolerance and yet who loved me, and whom I loved.