Liz Caile

The Liz Caile Express Your Peace Contest

“The truth has always been hard to take, hard to speak; the easy way out is not, I hope, an American tradition.” ~Liz Caile

For 20 years Liz Caile challenged the readers of her weekly columns in The Mountain-Ear newspaper to consider things in a way they probably hadn’t before. Sometimes what she wrote made people angry, but she always left the reader with something to consider.
She treasured the natural world, and our interconnection with it. Liz sought to exist in harmony with the land. She spent much of her adult life living in small cabins, only accessible by foot, where she raised her three sons.

When the U.S. Forrest Service bulldozed her cabin due to the fact that it was an unpatented mining claim Liz was spurred on to begin sharing her experiences and insights through her writing, composing articles about what was important to her: the environment, war, society, and her family.

“I share my thoughts in hopes they will provoke others in their efforts to touch the earth.”

By the time Liz was 51 she was suffering from what the doctors thought was rheumatoid arthritis, but which turned out to be a brain tumor. Two years later on Valentine’s Day 1998 Liz Caile left behind her insightful and provocative writings to the world and future generations, encouraging us to appreciate the natural world around us, and “to sift for the truth” ourselves.

In honor of Liz Caile and her committment to self-expression, the Mountain Forum for Peace holds an annual contest for art and writing. Coupled with youth workshops leading up to the main event every Fall, the contest brings young and old together in celebration of Liz’s life and legacy, and encourages our community to engage with each other through art and the written word.

2016 Winners

Adult (15+) winner in writing: Eziekiel Slobig

The ghost comes leaving no Trace
but the wounds that no one sees.
These little pains riding on tomorrow’s reminder of today.
No one cares Cuz no one sees
Cuz on one’s there to dry the tears that these ghostly
memories seem to leave.
I don’t know why but it never stops
all these tears just drop, drop, drop.
Please tell me when this is all over.
Maybe then I can be truly happy again.

Youth winner in writing: Skye Orndoff-Keller

Just think about it
2 towns, 1 bridge
1 town on one side
The other town on the other side
The first town knows communication
They work together
On the other hand
The other town is rough
Any mistake creates riots
Again, the first town helps each other
If a mistake happens there
They say lets try another way
When the bridge is done
One side is strong
One side is weak

Adult (15+) winner in art: Teresa Keller


Youth winner in art: Trinity LeBlanc

2015 Video

2014 Winners

Gwyn B.

Skye O.

Trinity L.

Glynnis B.

2013 Winners

Adult (15+) winner in art: Teresa Keller


Youth winner in art: Trinity LeBlanc

High School winner in writing: "Dirt" by Emilia Van Buskirk


Emilia Van Buskirk

The sun glared down on the field, baking the dirt even harder and forcing a trickle of sweat and filth to run down the man’s back. He leaned over again, shoulders straining, and hauled another shovelful of dirt into the wheelbarrow. It was the hottest time of day, and his tongue and mouth had been coated by dust many hours ago. Water was but a memory at this point, and he wasn’t thinking about the truck until it arrived, engine grumbling and small rocks crunching under the heavy tires. Loaded down with grubby coolers, the vehicle jerked to a stop. The man stood upright, fully extending his spine for the first time that day, sighing softly as he felt everything grind into place. He followed the herd of other men – husbands, fathers, sons, and grandsons – to the dusty truck. A line was formed, small metal cups were passed around, and within fifteen minutes the man had been corralled back to his section of the trench.

He dug until the sun slipped below the barren horizon, and he still couldn’t see more than shadows after wiping the grime out of his eyes. He paused, and looked out at the rocky, uneven field, riddled with so many craters from so many bombs. The men digging the trenches in front of him were negatives against the final throws of sunlight, amorphous stamps on the world. He wiped his brow. His shoulders and neck stung with sunburn, and his hands ached, grooved and red from the unwieldy shovel. A whistle blew, and everyone around him stood up too, unfurling towards the dying sky like vines, stretching and dropping tools that landed on the ground with a muffled clank.

Walking back towards already-dug trenches and shacks squatting behind barbed wire, silence spread, hushing even those young, eager fellows still inclined to believe in life after the War. They talked often during the day, drawing ragged breaths between each scoop with the shovel or swing of the pickaxe, spewing their stories to anyone who would listen. They had arrived later, dragged kicking and screaming or willingly, with a nervous determination, and their first look at the War was of red, cracked ground beneath a heavy sky. These men made friends quickly, stayed up late playing poker for cigarettes, and often gave out jovial pats-on-the-back. When it was mail time, they were the ones to sit by the door, pace to and fro in the cramped barracks, and, after the letters had arrived and were read and re-read, tuck them into breast pockets and silently start to smoke. Usually, on the brief hike back to the barracks, if the skies were clear and the air-raid siren sat quietly, chatter would start, and sometimes a song or two was organized. Today, though, a great quiet fell, and the crackle of dirt under boots and breath leaving lungs were the loudest noises to be heard. When he entered his dugout, the last of the 17 who slept there, the man glanced, out of habit, to the sky once again. Grey light, and approaching stars. There was nothing. There had been nothing for days, and the man shook his head at himself for worrying unnecessarily. He walked in, latched the door, and joined the other men in removing their sweat-soaked clothes. Cigarettes were smoked, mail was delivered, and a few hours later gas lamps were switched off. Once again, the sound of breathing was the only thing the man could hear.

Dirt” by Emilia Van Buskirk (2013)

Past Winners


Satyagraha” by Teagen Blakey (2012)
River of Knowledge” by Teagen Blakey (2012)
Cumbersome Box of Inequity” by Alexandra Ceurvorst


Indian Summer” by Teagen Blakey (2011)
A Link of Peace” by Teagen Blakey (2011)


Silver Linings” by Kira Hicks (2008)
Flow” by Sam Chapman (2008)


Peace Media” by Stephanie Cook (2007)
City in Contrast” by Clarissa Blackmer (2007)
As Quick as a Sunset” by Hannah Monserud (2007)


Flags” by Sam Tyler (2006)
Don’t Believe the Hype” by Caelin Sheahan (2006)