Poetry competition entries displayed in McClelland Art Gallery

The winning poems from the Division of Humanities’ second annual poetry competition are currently on display in the McClelland Art Gallery. The division published the top 20 student and employee submissions in the gallery on Feb. 19 and they will exhibit until March 4.

The Division of Humanities hosts several events each semester to encourage students and employees from every division to grow creatively and realize their writing abilities. "I believe that poetry is almost a lost art,” said Rachel Blake, sophomore English major and event organizer. “Humanities is striving to revive the poets within us all.”

More than 60 poems were entered into the competition for judges Bill Fitts, Mike Mennard and Mark Robison to examine. “I tend to sort and sift through the entries as I go,” said Mark Robison, competition judge. “I have no preconceived notion that it has to rhyme or be in a certain style, but it has to accomplish what it sets out to do. You can quickly find poems that don’t do that.”

The judges looked for effectiveness and appeal to imagination, selecting against conventionality or clichés. “We looked at them all independently,” said Robison. “But there was a significant degree of agreement on which were in the top.”

First place in the competition went to Aphee Messer, freshman art, English and graphic design major, with her entry “American Princess.” The free verse poem follows the stories of five Native American women through history. “I wrote half of it right when the poetry contest was announced and the rest the night before it ended,” she said. “The idea came to me as I walked to oil painting class; my head down against the wind, my eyes watching my moccasined feet.”

Messer attributes part of her inspiration to her own family heritage. “I’m a descendent from the Oneida tribe through my dad’s side,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in Native American cultures, but this was the first time I’ve ever entered a poetry competition. Channeling my creative side through poetry was a refreshing experience.”

Caitlin Blize, freshman communications major, came in second place with her poem “Happy 38th Birthday.” Jessica Perrone, junior English and history major, came in third place with “The Mind of a Goblin,” and Bryan Hardin, senior mathematics education major, came in fourth place with “Oh! Quintic Function.”

The McClelland Art Gallery is located in the Ortner Center on the campus of Union College, 3800 S. 48th Street. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the gallery is free and open to the public.