UAH professor’s poem receives first prize in statewide poetry competition

Melissa Morphew

Melissa Morphew, a Clinical Associate Professor in the UAH College of Professional Studies is a recipient of the prestigious Hackney Literary Awards.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Sharon "Melissa" Morphew, a Clinical Associate Professor in The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) College of Professional Studies is the recipient of a prestigious literary award.

The Hackney Literary Awards committee selected Morphew’s The Melodramatic Scene in Which We Resist What We Can Change in Favor of the Impossible, as the first-prize recipient in their annual awards.

"I was extremely happy and honored to receive the award. I wrote the poem specifically for the contest," said Dr. Melissa Morphew.

"One of my fellow professors had told me about an etiquette book his mother owned back in the fifties that explained all the ins and outs of being an Air Force wife. Well that sounded like a hoot, so I found a used copy on Amazon and ordered it. It is amazing how every aspect of a woman's behavior was dictated by a strict code back then," said Morphew. "The section in the book on the proper way to celebrate wedding anniversaries inspired my poem, and also the fact that the book reminded me of those melodramatic women's movies of the fifties and sixties--movies like Peyton Place and All That Heaven Allows — where a woman is denied happiness because she has stepped outside the boundaries society has set for her."

Morphew has worked at UAH since 2016 in the College of Professional Studies. She has played an integral role in the development of the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree program. She teaches courses in writing, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary research.

"I love to teach — well just like I always wanted to write, I also always wanted to teach," said Morphew. "I had some absolutely fabulous teachers throughout my life who helped me to follow my dreams. And I always wanted to pay that forward, and the best way I know how to do that is to hopefully encourage and inspire my students to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams."

Originally from Lawrenceburg, TN, Morphew now lives in Lexington, AL. "My ancestors on both sides have lived in Alabama since it was a territory, but during the 1940s my grandparents slipped up over the Tennessee line," she said.

Morphew’s ideal setting for writing poems is at home. "In my office surrounded by my huge collection of reference books, sitting at my desk in front of a large window that looks out onto a pasture. I have been writing poetry since I was eight years old, but I became a photographer much more recently."

She takes photos of vintage dresses in front of abandoned places. "It's a bit hard to describe, but if anyone would like to see some of them, I have a website: I have published some of my photographs, but I still consider myself very much an amateur, and I am having a great time learning all I can about this wonderful art form."

This Hackney Literary Awards writing competition recognizes excellence in literary works throughout Alabama in categories including novels, short stories, and poetry. Each category selects three winners to represent first, second, and third place. The first place recipient receives a cash prize and the opportunity to publish their poetry in the Birmingham Arts Journal.

In addition to the Hackney Literary Awards, Morphew is also a past recipient of The Academy of American Poets College Prize, The Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize, The W.B. Yeats’ Society Poetry Prize, and The Sacramento Poetry Center Press Book Award.

Morphew is the author of five poetry collections and has taught creative writing classes and workshops all over the country, including Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, and California.

She obtained a Bachelor’s degree from The University of North Alabama. Morphew earned a Master’s degree at The University of South Alabama, and PhD from The University of Georgia in Athens.



Melissa Morphew


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