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English major Sarah Thompson ’07 (New Canaan, Conn.) won first prize in the Jean Corrie Poetry competition with her entry “To my uncles.” First-year students, sophomores, and juniors are eligible for the prize and may submit up to three original unpublished poems for consideration.

“I am thrilled about winning the competition, and I absolutely didn’t expect it,” says Thompson.

“To my uncles” captures her memories of spending every summer in Barnstable Village, Cape Cod. The poem focuses on one specific character that is a composite of Thompson’s three uncles and describes weekend trips to the beach. After traveling to the beach by boat, they would spend the entire day there, not leaving until dark.

“Poetry is something that speaks to me personally,” says Thompson. “There is something beautiful about not only using words to convey a message but structure, line breaks, and imagery. Writing poetry makes me calm; it gives me moments of clarity and time to observe things going on around me. I am one of those people who writes down images as they come to me: on assorted napkins or in the margins of my notebooks. I love e.e. cummings.”

Guest judge and poet David Chin chose Thompson’s poem “for its overall attention to craft. The poet uses image, sound, and trope very skillfully to convey all of the various emotions of the sea-side adventure with unclesevoking nostalgia for childhood visits to the beach while avoiding sentimentality.”

Lee Upton, professor of English and writer-in-residence, also praises Thompson’s poetry skills: “Sarah Thompson is a gifted young poet with a razor-sharp sense of humor and an impressive facility with images.”

Thompson is a member of the Marquis literary journal, Le Cercle Francais (French Club), Lacrosse Club, and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She is a DJ for Lafayette’s radio station WJRH. She completed an externship at the WB Network arranged by Claudine Lilien ’90, vice president for sales.

As honorable mentions, Chin chose “la neige” by Marquis Scholar Lauren Yuhas ’09 (Montvale, N.J.) “for its bravery, delicate use of enjambment, and resonant ambivalences,” and “I want to be untouchable” by Cassie Title ’09 (Springfield, N.J.) “for its allusive, ardent, and free associative wit.”

Chin teaches creative writing, rhetoric, and literature at Penn State-Wilkes Barre. He is the author of two poetry collections, The China Cupboard and the Coal Furnace (Mellen, 2000) and Chalked in Orange (Mbira, 1991). He is currently working on a book-length collection of poems under the working title “From Coincidence.” His poetry also appears in numerous anthologies. He has received an AWP INTRO Award, Clyde Birth Memorial Award, Curricular Innovation Award, and a writing resident fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. He received his MFA from Columbia University and Ph.D. from Binghamton University.

The Jean Corrie Poetry Competition is sponsored by the English department and Academy of American Poets. Founded in 1955 with ten participating schools, the Academy’s poetry contests are held in 159 colleges and universities nationwide. Many prominent American poets, including Sylvia Plath, Heather McHugh, and George Starbuck, won their first recognition with an Academy poetry prize.

Upcoming Lafayette poetry events:

· MacKnight Black Poetry Reading, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20 in Kirby Auditorium. Lynn Emanuel will be the featured reader; she also judged the poetry competition for Lafayette seniors.

· Jean Corrie Poetry Reading & Ice Cream Social, 4:10 p.m. Thursday, April 27 in Faculty Dining Room, Marquis Hall. David Chin is the featured poet; he also judged the competition.

Categorized in: Academic News