Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 30, 2013

Elk Rapids native in first ArtPrize anthology

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — And then I reach above my head into the starry night,

Stretching, stretching high to grasp the shining specks of light.

Look there! One sparkles near my palm close enough to touch,

Dancing in the empty air like diamonds, glass and such.

— From “Stargazer” by Amanda Wilson

TRAVERSE CITY — ArtPrize isn’t just for artists anymore.

The prestigious international art exhibition and competition will showcase the written word for the first time this year in a collection of short stories, essays and poems by winners of a national literary competition and others.

“Imagine This! An ArtPrize Anthology” will include a poem by Amanda Wilson of Elk Rapids, one of 25 writers from across the country chosen as finalists and for honorable mention in the contest. Wilson said she wrote the poem, “Stargazer,” in her first creative writing class at Elk Rapids High School.

“It’s a poem about someone who dreams a lot about really fanciful situations and what it might be like,” said Wilson, who was inspired to write by Elk Rapids language arts teacher Lin Opgenorth and Northwestern Michigan College English instructor Judy Chu.

ArtPrize, hosted in Grand Rapids, is an open art competition that gives away the world’s largest art prize, $200,000. More than 1,500 works by artists from 41 U.S. states and 46 countries were displayed throughout the city in 2012.

The annual festival draws 1 million spectators, whose votes decide the top prize. Additional prizes are awarded by a jury.

The anthology, produced by the Grand Rapids-area Cascade Writers’ Group, isn’t eligible for ArtPrize awards, said editor Lisa McNeilley. But it provides a venue for writers at the festival and will be available for sale at the festival hub shop on Sheldon Boulevard SE, its e-shop at, and at

“This is the only literary venue now. It’s really a memento for ArtPrize visitors who want something to take away,” said McNeilley, adding that the anthology also includes color reproduction of prize-winning works from the past years of ArtPrize.

“For many writers, this opportunity to be published is a lifelong dream.”

Winning recognition for her poetry is the last thing Wilson, 21, expected. She is a visual artist who studies illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University.

“I was really surprised,” said Wilson, who dreams of writing and illustrating children’s books someday. “Even though I didn’t get a cash prize I was just really happy to be included in the book.

“Normally not a whole lot of people see (her poetry) but whenever I get an idea, I jot it down and come back later and try and make something cool out of it.”

Wilson said she attended the 19-day long ArtPrize festival the last two or three years and “just thought it was something that was really cool.” This year she’ll be in the thick of it, since Kendall is located in Grand Rapids, ArtPrize’s backyard.

The festival begins Sept. 18.

McNeilley said the national literary contest drew over 200 submissions, which were judged by volunteer readers and Cascade Writers’ Group members. First through third prizes, covered by submission fees, were offered to the top three entries.

Wilson won honorable mention.

McNeilley said she hopes this year’s anthology will be the first of many.

“I can’t speak to what plans ArtPrize has to add other forms of art to the visual art they’ve included so far. But we are intending to make this an annual competition and publication,” she said.