"I've written poems in high school. I've won a couple contests. Nothing big," she said. "This is amazing for me."
Looking for something to do this weekend? Find what you need in our Weekend Entertainment Guide newsletter.
Zink, 31, lives in Greencastle, Pa., with her husband, Daniel. They lived in Nashville, Tenn., for five years, but moved to Greencastle to be closer to his parents.
Her winning poem, "Frosted Panes of Broken Glass," is about love lost. Judges praised the piece.
"A lot of pathos well executed," said Jesse Ellsbury, lead literary arts teacher at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, "and the repitition of the title at the end binds the imagery together well."
"I loved the symbolism," said Kamryn Grosh, literary arts student at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
"When we realize what we've lost, this is how it feels," said Patricia Wishard, public relations and adult program librarian with Washington County Free Library.
Zink said her father-in-law tipped her off to The Herald-Mail's contest.
"He knows I love to write. So he lets me know about every contest," Zink said. "I wrote (my poem) after I heard about the contest. The first line popped into my head, and I just wrote it from there."
Despite the poem's theme of love gone cold and gray, Zink said the poem was not an expression of her current love life.
"Me and my husband, we love each other to death," she said. "I did grow up in a broken home, so the child in the poem could be me. But that didn't even dawn on me until after I'd written it."
Zink wrote the poem in four-line stanzas with alternating, rhyming lines of eight and six syllables — one of her favorite forms to write in. She also liked some of the imagery that came to her.
"That one line about the crow eating carrion — it's one of those things where you're trying to think of rhymes as you go, and you come up with an idea. And I thought 'crow and carrion.' That's an interesting comparison for broken love," she said. "Crows think (carrion) is the greatest thing in the world to eat, but we think that's just disgusting. That's just what's going on in this poem. It looks maybe like their love is amazing from the outside, but from the inside, they shouldn't be together. It's disgusting what is going on in the realtionship."
Zink earned an English degree at a college in Nashville, now called Welch College. She said she always had a passion for writing. Her creative role model? Her father.
"He was talented that way. He wrote poems, stories, all types of things," she said. "I have written poems for my family and friends. And my sister and my mom. But I've never been published or acknowledged before. I'm so excited."
Frosted Panes of Broken Glass
Through frosted panes of broken glass
I watch you sink away,
beneath the snowy mountain pass