Undergraduate poetry contest offers more than just scholarship to students

Emily Moran

The Wick Poetry Center will hold their annual poetry contest for all Kent State undergraduates now through March 1. The contest offers scholarship money for those who place in the contest. First place is awarded $2,000, second place is awarded $1,500, and third place is awarded $1,000. Any undergraduate student at Kent State is welcome to enter and entries must be postmarked by March 1.

Jessica Jewell, program coordinator for the Wick Poetry Center, said the contest began in 1984 when Robert and Walter Wick established the Wick Poetry scholarship funds for undergraduate poets at Kent State. She said the judge for this year’s contest is the winner of the 2011 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, Carolyn Creedon. The contest is the longest running scholarship contest at the Wick Poetry Center.

“The undergraduate poetry contest is a way to celebrate all of the wonderfully talented young writers at Kent State,” Jewell said.

Nicole Robinson, outreach coordinator for the Wick Poetry Center said the Wick Poetry Center offers over $30,000 in scholarships to Kent State students in memory of Stan and Tom Wick. She said she hopes students gain a deeper appreciation of poetry through submitting, reading, or attending “Celebrating Our Own,” which is Wick Poetry Center’s annual reading featuring winners of the contest.

“Poets, and all artists, deserve to be rewarded for their dedication to their craft,” Robinson said.

Robinson said students can gain a stronger connection to their own poetry through the process of entering the Wick undergraduate poetry contest.

“Poems have a way of opening our eyes, and they are constantly offering themselves as tiny teachers- giving us new ways to experience life, and all that comes with it,” Robinson said.

Sophomore anthropology major Sabra Corea said she entered the contest last year as a high school student who would be attending Kent State in the fall. Corea said she was looking for a scholarship online and only found scholarships with essay requirements.

“I just didn’t have the time to do an essay, but I already had all this poetry laying around, so it was more of a ‘Why not?’ decision,” Corea said.

Corea said entering the poetry contest not only helped her with a scholarship award, but also helped her work on her editing process. She said upon entering, she became very strict with her editing and it benefited her work.

Corea plans on entering in the contest again and said she is working on pieces now.

“I know I’m going to keep working on them, so it’s not like I’ll be putting any more effort onto myself by entering,” Corea said.

Babacar M’Baye, an English professor on the advisory board for the Wick Poetry Center, once served as a judge for the undergraduate contest and said he found it to be an enlightening experience.

“I learned about the ways in which poets are already made during their undergraduate education and the ways in which their experiences as students thriving in such an exciting university and town enrich their human experiences,” M’Baye said.

M’Baye said judges look for “immediate and sustained sparks” in each student’s poem. He said judges look at elements that constitute good writing including thematic profundity and technical dexterity. He said the poems submitted must be well written, should use creative diction, style, tone, rhythm, and figures of speech that strengthen the main theme of the verses.

“We should pay more attention to poetry because it helps us embrace what we really are when we take away all the superficial and temporal layers of human endeavors and learn to value the beauty of life, love, simplicity, nature, and harmony that major poets such as Phillis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes celebrate in their works,” M’Baye said.

Contact Emily Moran at [email protected].