The day her last child left home and Jeanmarie Willson was faced with an empty nest, she wrote a poem.
Her expression of grief was captured in “For the Love of Becca,” a poem that ironically has brought a lot of happiness to its author, a graduate of Pellissippi State Community College.
“For the Love of Becca” was one of two submissions that garnered Willson recognition from the latest Phi Theta Kappa Regional Literary Awards competition. PTK, the academic honor society for two-year colleges, awarded her second place in poetry and an honorable mention for her other entry, a short story titled “Walking with Schizophrenia.”
Willson, 46, has two career goals: to teach English on the college level and to write. She says she has received a lot of support for her writing at Pellissippi State.
“I’ve taken all the classes I can from Ed Francisco, English professor and Pellissippi State’s writer-in-residence. He has always been very encouraging about my writing.”
Beyond earning PTK recognition, Willson is also one of two people who received an Earl Hamner all-expense-paid scholarship to this past summer’s Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln Memorial University. Hamner is creator of “The Waltons” and author of “Spencer’s Mountain,” “The Homecoming” and “Fifty Roads to Town.”
“It was class, after class, after class,” Willson said of the festival. “It was awesome! Some of the writers took a look at my stuff and told me where I needed to tighten up.”
Willson graduated from Pellissippi State earlier this year with an associate’s degree and a 3.87 grade point average. Her plan is to take some additional classes at Pellissippi State before transferring to Maryville College.