When Raynette Eitel learned she had won two prominent awards for her poetry, she joked with her oldest grandson that he couldn't think of her any more "as a little old lady who writes verse."
Eitel, an energetic 74, won both the Nevada Senior Poet Laureate and the National Senior Poet Laureate awards in the 19th annual Senior Poets Laureate Poetry Competition for American poets 50 or older.
Her winning work, "At the Irish Pub," appears online at amykitchenerfdn.org/2011_finish/national.html.
The Sun City Summerlin resident, whose grandson is actually a fan of her writing, is not new to penning verse.
"I've been a poet since I learned how to spell," she said.
Wanda Sue Parrott, contest administrator, said there were many good entries, but Eitel's stood out with the judge.
"It fully expressed the human spirit," she said.
Eitel's work has appeared in an anthology published by Obadiah Press, a Christian publishing website, and in New Mexico magazine. Many things inspire her -- music, nature and experiences.
"Poems come to me in the night," she said.
Ten years ago, she won a contest that mixed dancing with poetry. Her winning entry, "Imagine the Harvest," earned her $300 and took her to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, a museum opposite the Golden Gate Bridge. She arrived a few days early to play tourist and recalled being out and about, enjoying the September weather.
"I remember looking up and going, 'Why are there no planes?' " she said.
It was Sept. 11. The result was her patriotic piece, "The Day the Planes Quit Flying."
Four days later, she read "Imagine the Harvest" as choreography, adapted specifically to it, was performed. That win prompted her to enter more contests.
She said that with this latest acknowledgement, she now feels she can lay claim to the moniker of "poet." Her husband, Jim, was pleasantly surprised at her latest accomplishment.
"I didn't even know she'd entered," he said.
The Senior Poets Laureate Poetry Competition saw 898 other entries, and her prize was $500.
Eitel has three self-published books of poetry with Xlibris: "Harsh Country," "Earthen Jar" and "Preludes to an Allelujah Chord," which contains Christmas poems. She is finishing another, "My Heart Sings."
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 387-2949.