Joy Bale Boone (1912-2002) was an American poet best known for her devotion to the arts. Born in Chicago, where she received inspiration from poet Harriet Monroe, Boone spent most of her life in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She was active in the women's liberation movement, having formed the League of Women Voters in Hardin County, KY in 1944. Throughout her life, she served on numerous committees and boards in hopes that more people would have the opportunity to experience the arts in the way that she had. Her most significant work was The Storm's Eye: A Narrative in Verse Celebrating Cassius Marcellus Clay, Man of Freedom 1810–1903. She served as Kentucky's Poet Laureate from 1997-1998.

              From Joy



              Happiness is yet the essence of a moment--

               be still for this!

              Resist kaleidoscopes,

              the mad twirling of colors,

              and the hunter's horn.

              Fleet is the moment

              its essence shy

              can wait forever . . .

              only we die.

2021 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize

First Place 2020 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize

Brittney Mishra

Black Hills Gold


It fits a little loose on my ring finger,

a sapphire set between black hills gold.

A piece of soul, a blue flame, the sky

reflected in a snow fed lake.

It used to weave around her finger

like Dakota wheat, now I never take it off.

If I melted it down or let the river take it,

I would not remember those moments,

her body catatonic, cloaked in a dark home,

her hands like claws folded neat in her lap.

She never turned her eyes to me,

she stared out the window and watched the living.

Her skin tissue-thin as if I could fold her up,

file her away, and never think of her again.

Judge Phillip Howerton is a sixth-generation Ozarker and was brought up on a small dairy farm in southern Dallas County, Missouri. After spending several years as a milk truck driver, beef farmer, and production worker, he earned degrees in English, history, and education from Drury University and a doctorate in American literature and rhetoric and composition from University of Missouri-Columbia.

He is a professor of English at a small Ozarks university, co-editor of Cave Region Review: A Regional Journal of Visual and Literary Arts, and general editor of Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies. His poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, such as Arkansas Review, Big Muddy, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, The Midwest Quarterly, Plainsongs, Red Rock Review, River Oak Review, and The South Carolina Review. Two of Howerton's poems also appear in Yonder Mountain: An Ozarks Anthology, edited by Anthony Priest.

Golden Antelope Press published his poetry collection, The History of Tree Roots, in 2015, and University of Arkansas Press released his The Literature of the Ozarks: An Anthology, in February 2019.

Order the spring 2020 issue of THR now for a $4 donation.

Grand Prize


We are seeking original, unpublished work for the contest. All finalists will be published in THR’s spring 2021 issue. To enter the contest, participants should make a $10 donation through Paypal, submittable or by check or money order (we cannot accept cash) made out to The Heartland Review and up to three (3) poems to:


2021 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize

c/o Sandi Howard


600 College Street Road

Elizabethtown, KY 42701


The donations will fund the contest, creation of the journal, and scholarships for creative writing students.

No simultaneous submissions will be considered.


Entrants should provide one Word document with a cover page that includes

name, address, email, and a 30-40 word biography followed by the poems.


Personal information on the manuscripts results in immediate disqualification.


Deadline for entries is postmark November, 20, 2020. Results will be announced in February 2021.

Thank you for supporting our journal and remembering Joy.