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Young Harris, GA (04/23/2024) — Beyond the pandemic, COVID-19 had an impact on the world from the aspect of isolation and social interaction. As the world lived isolated from each other, we all searched for a path through it. 

For Gale Thompson, a Creative Writing professor at Young Harris College, the isolation and separation during the pandemic served as inspiration for her latest book of poetry, Mountain Amnesia. And her work is garnering recognition from the literary world, including a national award. 

“During the fall of 2019, as COVID started to escalate and we all moved into seclusion, I was dealing with personal grief, not to mention the national grief as a result of the pandemic,” Thompson said, of her third book of poetry. “So, the thought to write about it seemed natural. I wanted to explore the process of handling grief.” 

Having moved to Young Harris College as a creative writing professor, Thompson’s work included the isolation not only of grief but the physical isolation of living in the mountain of North Georgia. 

“I wanted to be alone in the words, deal with the emotions and the grief process,” Thompson said, “which was a natural outcome of COVID and our separation. It heightened the need to connect and talk to people.” 

Mountain Amnesia has collected several accolades since its release, including winning the 2023 Colorado Prize for Poetry from the University Press of Colorado and the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. The Colorado Prize for Poetry is an international literary contest started in 1995. 

“Mountain Amnesia stretches thin the fibrous tissues of grief that inhabit the body, mind, and ether of existence from burrowing traumas,” said Felicia Zamora, a final judge and author of I Always Carry My Bones. “Whether counting incisions or counting the dead, these poems seek a way through the doubt and destruction into connectivity by understanding that ‘we are mostly lonely when we change.’ A gorgeous seeping occurs in these poems where the voice fights to not disappear, to keep touching the world.” 

Thompson traveled to Colorado this month to read at The Colorado Prize for Poetry – an international poetry book manuscript contest established in 1995. Each year’s prizewinner receives a $2,500 honorarium and publication of his or her book by the Center for Literary Publishing. 

“It was a short but incredibly meaningful trip,” Thompson said. “I loved being able to finally meet with the kind folks at Colorado State University, with whom I’ve been working all year to get the book out. You can tell that working on these manuscripts is a labor of love for them, and I’m so appreciative.” 

Mountain Amnesia is Thompson’s third book of poetry, following Soldier On and Helen Or My Hunger. And in her fifth year at Young Harris College, she is already working on her next project, in between teaching creative writing classes. Her next book is a work of lyric essays. 

“This book represents home,” Thompson said. “I’m from here. I keep coming home to Georgia. So, this book represents that and the process we all go through when dealing with and processing grief.” 

About Young Harris College 

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and Professional Studies. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the Conference Carolinas. For more information, visit