Prize-winning poet brings eeriness to KSU


Poet Lesley Jenike reads selected works from her collection as part of the Wick Poetry Center’s Reading Series in the Student Center on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Lyric Aquino

The 2017 Ohio Chapbook winner, Lesley Jenike, brought eeriness and darkness together during her poetry reading March 9 in the Kent State Student Center.

The Chapbook Competition for Ohio Poets is an annual poetry competition open to all current residents of Ohio. Each year, one manuscript is selected for publication in the Wick Chapbook Series, published by Kent State University Press. In addition to publication, the winner is also invited to give a reading at Kent State. 

Jenike read aloud some of her work from her winning chapbook, a small collection of poems, titled “Punctum” during the event, which was sponsored by The Wick Poetry Center. 

“I feel like my writing is sort of strange — kind of dark — and the sound of the language comes through,” Jenike said.

Catherine Wing, assistant English professor and judge for the Chapbook Prize, said she chose Jenike because her writing drew her in.

“The way that she describes things translates in a very physical and emotional way,” Wing said. “She’s a very fine poet, and that stood out.”

Wing said she enjoyed Jenike’s use of language and the ethereal tone that could be found throughout her submission.

“It makes you investigate the conditions of absent and present — who’s with us and who’s not with us,” Wing said.

Jane Plishka, a dual enrollment student, attended the poetry reading after Jenike spoke to her class about creative writing. Plishka said she felt like hearing Jenike explain her poems added to her pieces.

“It’s so different to actually hear the explanations and the inspiration and not have to interpret it,” Plishka said.

Plishka, a fan of creative writing, enjoyed Jenike’s use of allusive attributions within her poetry.

“It’s really interesting that she was able to be so indirect, but you also knew what she was talking about,” she said.

Jenike has spent most of her life writing and has received her inspiration from various life events. She attended a creative performing arts high school and later studied at Emmerson University in Boston. She continued her education in graduate school at Ohio State University.

Jenike currently teaches at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

For more information about Jenike and samples of her work, visit