Roane State faculty member adds to literary prizes

UPPER CUMBERLAND – A Roane State faculty member with a penchant for winning literary prizes has done it again.

DeAnna Stephens, an associate professor of English, won the grand prize in the Tennessee Mountain Writers (TMW) spring conference and competition.

She also won first place for her short story, “Dolor,” in the fantasy/science fiction category. Her poem, “In His Owner’s Intolerable Absence, the Dog Forsakes Longing,” won both first place in poetry, as well as the Sue Ellen Hudson Award for best of all categories. 

Last year was the first time Stephens entered the annual TMW competition, and she won first place in the fiction category then.

TMW is a regional nonprofit organization that promotes Tennessee literary arts and supports the work of Tennessee writers. 

“Our goal is to provide opportunities for people interested in the craft of writing to become better writers,” TMW Board Chair Carol Grametbauer wrote in an email.

Last year, Stephens won the poetry competition at the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival. In addition to receiving a $1,000 prize, she read her poems to an appreciative audience in New Orleans’ famous French Quarter.

In 2017, Stephens was a finalist in the prestigious Lascaux Review, and her poetry has been published in such venues as “The Lascaux Review,” “Rumble Fish Quarterly” and “64 Parishes.” Her chapbook, titled “Heliotaxis,” has been published and is available at Main Street Rag Bookstore.

Stephens said she began writing poetry when she was 13 and has been writing seriously since she was an undergrad at Tennessee Tech University. She received her Master of Fine Arts from George Mason University in Virginia. She’s been an instructor at Roane State since 2006.

“I’m drawn to poetry…because it connects the individual experience to the universal in a way that is different from other genres,” Stephens said in a 2017 interview.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit

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