Languages and literature department hosts inaugural student poetry contest

The Languages and Literature department has, for many years, recognized National Poetry Month in April by inviting a celebrated poet to campus to read from his or her work and usually conduct a poetry-writing workshop.  Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the college was closed this April, but it unsettled the faculty to think that National Poetry Month (NPM) should go unnoticed. 

To maintain the college’s observance of NPM, Associate Professor of English Doug Branch, who has organized the department’s celebrations in the past, consulted with colleagues to figure out a new plan of action:  the first-ever poetry contest for Southwest students.  The department decided to ask students to submit short poems they had written in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Poems could address the pandemic directly or describe, more obliquely, thoughts and emotions the poets might be having during this time.  Three top poems would be selected as winners at the end of April with each winning poet receiving a $30 gift certificate to Burke’s Books.

Much to the delight of faculty judges Thad Cockrill, Daniel Gillespie, Susanna Jackson and Branch, 22 participants submitted poems.  Winners were difficult to select due to the quality of submissions, but the judges chose the following three poems: “An Afternoon, Alone,” by Dane Mull, an untitled poem by Maggie Rogers, and “Quarantine,” by Jessica Smith.  The poems were published in Saluqi Connect, Scoop, announced in college-wide communications and posted on social media. 

To read the winning poems, click on 2020 Southwest Poetry Contest Winners.

The judges wish to thank the students who responded with such enthusiasm and creativity to this challenge.  They said they were occasionally amused, sometimes disturbed, and often deeply moved by the poems they read. They also appreciate and recognize Diana Fedinec, Robert Jackson, Clint Norwood, Daphne Thomas and Dustin Williams for their support of the project. 

-Department of Languages and Literature

Scoop - May/June 2020