BETHANY, W.Va. – A new book of poetry by a Bethany alumnus is at the center of a social media contest with a prize of $10,000.

Phill Provance“A Plan in Case of Morning” by Phill Provance ’06 was released this week by Australian publisher Vine Leaves Press, and a fan of the poet’s work, who has asked not be identified, has donated the prize money.

The identity of the donor is secret even to the poet, who said he has confirmed it’s not his mother.

“If someone loves me that much, I’m all for it,” Provance said with a laugh. “I apparently have a benefactor. There’s this feeling that someone is aware of me, and I’m not aware of them.”

To enter the contest, readers are required to craft a post on either Facebook or Instagram that includes a picture of the post’s owner and their hero, their favorite quotation from “A Plan in Case of Morning,” and the hashtag #APlanInCaseofMorning.

Provance, who has an English degree from Bethany, said he spent about 15 years working on the collection; some of the poems featured in “A Plan in Case of Morning” were part of his thesis for his Master of Fine Arts degree at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Forty poems combine in an experiment that is described by the publisher as “simultaneously memoir, poetry, and verse novel.”

The collection examines the allegory of the hero tale. Typically, the hero fights the dragon, he explained.

A Plan In Case of Morning“I wanted to flip that so that the hero is fighting the demons inside himself,” Provance said. “Instead of going underground through the dead, he’s going underground within himself.”

Along the way, “A Plan in Case of Morning” examines toxic masculinity and death.

One poem, titled “Elegy for My College Roommate,” was written as Provance tried to understand the death of his Bethany roommate in his mid-30s. Before that, Provance said the only death he had personally faced was that of his grandmother.

“There was a logical progression of death, but with [my roommate] it was sudden, unexpected, strange,” Provance said. “This is why death is the existential terror of the mind.”

The poems also reflect a period of soul-searching after the dissolution of his relationship with his son’s mother.

Provance lives in Chicago but is originally from Connellsville, Pa. He published a chapbook, “The Day the Sun Rolled out of the Sky” in 2010 and has written nonfiction, such as “A Brief History of Woodbridge, New Jersey,” for The History Press.

He is continuing his studies in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

What advice does he have for aspiring writers? Force yourself to write.

“It will be really hard for a long time,” he said. “You will watch your friends go on to financial success and big houses and nice cars, and you will think, ‘I’m really stupid.’ But eventually you will hit your stride if you keep going.”

The social media contest accompanying “A Plan in Case of Morning,” he said, is an example of how “weird, cool, awesome things happen in your life.”

Purchasing a copy of “A Plan in Case of Morning” is not required to enter the contest, but the book is available in paperback and ebook from the publisher, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

The contest will run through midnight April 16. The owner of the post with the greatest number of reactions will receive the prize money via PayPal.

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Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.