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Vermont LGBTQ+ Rural Literary Magazine Honoring Poet Who Decried Indian Attack on White Settlement

December 24, 2019

A Vermont literary magazine highlighting “rural LGBTQ+ and [people of color] voices” is offering a prize honoring the memory of a former slave who composed a poem about a colonial-era attack by Indians on a white settlement.

Lucy Terry Prince (c. 1730-1821), a slave who was purchased and freed by a man who later married her during the mid-1750s, composed a poem about a 1746 attack on what the poem calls “Some very valiant men” in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The poem, called “Bars Fight,” names five men – all white – who died in the attack. The poem describes the Indian attackers as “Some very awful creatures.”

The poem is credited as the first literary work composed by an African-American in English.

The literary magazine, Mount Island, has not published in five years, but is planning to start publishing again in 2020, in part to counter “the mainstream American imagination” that its web site says “believes in a false countryside – one too white, conservative, or just plain quiet for any queer or Black or brown person to feel at home.”

Yet that’s not so, the web site says:

“But we are out here, holding down the countryside. Even as we live in the face of constant erasure, we live creatively, infectiously.”

The poetry contest is open to poets of color who live in or are from a rural place. A $500 cash prize, publication in a print anthology, and an invitation to participate in a panel discussion on “race, art, and the rural” will go to the winner, according to The Keene Sentinel.

The magazine is headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont.

 

 

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