By Evangelina Opoku-Nyarko ’21
Two Gordon students, Kara Applegate (‘18) and Christie Clause (‘20), received first and fifth honorable mentions in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ College Undergrad Poetry (CUP) competition. In addition to the two first places that the competition provided, it had five honorable mentions.
According to the students, the competition had about 1500 competitors from 37 different schools, including schools such as Stanford University, Columbia University and University of Michigan.
Participants were required to submit ten poems from which their writing ability was assessed and winners given a $500 cash prize along with having their poems published in a book.
Gordon college was one of nine schools to present multiple participants, two of which made honorable mentions.
Applegate and Clause were both very surprised at the outcome of this competition with neither of them really expecting to make it to the top. About a month after their submissions, both students received a congratulatory email from President Lindsey honoring them for their honorable mentions, surprising them for the organizers of the competition had yet to contact them.
In fact, both mentioned that they initially believed this to be a mistake until Stevick contacted them confirming their achievement.
This was Applegate’s first poetry competition. She explained that she had planned on following the example of Stephen King, by pinning rejection letters on a board but discovered this unnecessary with her win.
Clause, on the other hand, had won a few statewide competitions before, but never achieved recognition on the national level. She was nervous submitting and felt her odds of winning were slim.
Despite the shock of how well they had done, both poets agreed that their hard work had paid off and the recognition earned.
Both students were introduced to this competition over winter break by their professor, Mark Stevick, who is currently on sabbatical in Orvieto.
Coincidentally, towards the end of their creative writing class last semester, Clause and Applegate were matched to work together in a peer review workshop.Clause credits her work with Applegate as a needed push within her poetry writing.
Both Applegate and Clause attributed their success to the encouragement given them by Stevick. They attested to the fact that he invests in each of his students and pushed them to articulate their voices better.
They believed their chances of winning may have been different without him, not to downplay their abilities, but because his encouragement was just what they needed to push them up.
This achievement meant a lot to both students. Applegate sees this as a validation that she could get published one day.
Clause said it helped renew her faith in her writing ability. Though she had received affirmation from family and friends, she was thrilled to be recognized by professionals in the field of poetry.
She stated, “This achievement means that I’m on the right track and that what I have to say is worthwhile, which is exactly why I write”.