College Poetry Contest

The Lyric College Poetry Contest is open to undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university

First Prize ~ $500
Second Prize ~ $150
Third Prize ~ $100
Honorable Mention ~ Year’s subscription and bragging rights

SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES

Poems must be original and unpublished, 39 lines or less, written in English in traditional forms, preferably with regular scansion and rhyme. We welcome up to three poems per student.

Winners are announced and published in the Winter issue of The Lyric.

Entries may be sent by mail to Tanya Cimonetti:

The Lyric College Contest
c/o Tanya Cimonetti
1393 Spear Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
Inquiries and information available at tanyacim@aol.com

We will once again be considering collegiate contest entries by email.  Please add a short cover letter stating the traditional form that is entered, along with your name, undergraduate year, college or university, and postal address (in case you win!) to the following email:  tanyacim@aol.com

We look forward to receiving beautifully structured and inspiring work from America’s colleges and Universities!  Entries must be postmarked or emailed October 1st-December 31st.

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2020 WINNERS

First Prize – MANY WATERS CANNOT QUENCH LOVE, NOR CAN THE FLOODS DROWN IT by Maggie Palmer, University of Dallas, Texas

What price a grandma’s wisdom?  Is it worth
So many brimming thimblefuls of love?
Or equal to so many years on earth?
Is each sage pearl, as from a pirate’s trove,
Weighed to assess how much, on setting forth
It can afford recipients thereof?
Is it to be a burden or a prize
As it’s revealed what love or money buys?

How long to build a lifetime’s legacy?
When sayings stitch together, like a quilt
In recollection, which will be believed?
When heir of heirs are old enough to build,
What firm foundations rise from memory?
Are her words welcome? Has that need been filled?
Are elders taken early simply gone –-
Remembered fondly, but not heeded long?

Can wisdom ever die? Does it decrease
When minds slide down the sloping road to death?
Can any share of heirloom expertise—
A garden grown, a table rightly set –
Begin to balance one untimely grief?
What lingers in a mind doomed to forget?
When keys, and grandkids’ names, and husband’s face,
Slip softly from the soul, what takes their place?

Whatever dug its claws into your brain,
Whatever snuffed the breath beneath your throat,
Left something more important than my name.
Your tongue could not form words, but fingers stroked
The still-rebelling hair they used to braid.
A surer truth than all men ever wrote,
This wisdom burns within me all my days:
Heaven and earth may pass, but love remains.

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Second Prize – ANTHROPOCENE by Jessica Wood, Hillsdale College, Michigan

If you have held a baked clay lamp
(lit wick flickering) in your palm

and watched the shadows fall back
from the flame, then you know

how wilderness forsakes a wall.
First shadows flee, then matter.  Forests fall

to tinder; cropland expands.  Dammed rivers
become lakes.  The world grows small.

If you have felt a jagged stone
lacerate your hand, you know how roads

scar landscapes into maps, while voyages
a lifetime long condense to months,

then weeks.  The horizon (which in the past
fell back when you advanced—

a shadow driven outwards by a flame)
no longer yields new countries to your sight.

Even the half-illumined moon
pales when compared with city lights.

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Third Prize – A VILLANELLE FOR THE RESURRECTION MEN/ A VILLANELLE FOR THE DESPERATE*

by Chidinma Opaigbeogu, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

The resurrectionists come with glinting shovel, with heavy heart.
Under the clothing of night
They open the gate; prepared to start.

Night birds screech warnings into the dark.
They work under the glow of a lantern’s soft light
The resurrectionists come with glinting shovel, with heavy heart.

A few dollars from white hands buys them one death in one graveyard.
They exhume their siblings cover their eyes from the sight.
They open the gates; prepared to start

Their headstones stand apart.
Their children inherit immunity from their dreaded plight.
The resurrectionsists come with glinting shovel, with heavy heart.

Whose bodies will fill the medical wards
If not for the pillaging of those black graves?
They open the gates; prepared to start

As they stand on trial, they are charged.
But their sisters and brothers forgive them, they know who pulls their strings so tight.
The resurrectionists are coming with glinting shovel, with heavy hearts.
They’ve entered the gates and are prepared to start.

In 19th century United States, African American burial grounds were pillaged by Resurrection men, Black men coerced into grave robbing by white medical schools in order to obtain bodies for dissection.

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Honorable Mentions –

A WRITER’S COPING MECHANISM FOR LONELINESS by Amanda Trout, Pittsburg State University, Kansas

Taken young by other writers’ words, she
wraps her shoulders with their inky comforts,
claims their bold expressions as her kin, sees
characters as wild, and wondrous consorts.
When the unimagined world grows weary,
she imagines fun, some friends to share it,
soon becomes the empress of somewhere she,
freed some time from fear, finds she can bear it,
if only for a while.  As the night
breaks into one more day that she must face
the fact of being lonely, she will write
her fears, return to her chosen safe space
locked in the permanence of written lines,
shelved among rows of multicolored spines.

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PUZZLE by Leann Trout, Pittsburg State University, Kansas

Ships sailing ‘cross a perilous sea,
in hands Poseidon juggled.
To send them to dock safe at land:
place the pieces in the puzzle.

A flock of geese head flying south,
in wind and rain they tussle.
To bring sunlight upon their wings:
place the pieces in the puzzle.

A dying friend lying in bed,
half that makes the couple.
To kiss goodbye on top the head:
place the pieces in the puzzle.

A kid at play in a green field,
raised hands to pop a bubble.
To help a mother entertain:
place the pieces in the puzzle.

A world at war with an outbreak,
all equal in their struggle.
To make a public understand:
Place the pieces in the puzzle.

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ROTARY DIAL by Matilda Berk, Wellesley College, MA

The cold creeps in, & out meanders fall,
The sunlight drips more thinly every day.
The day is sharp in feeling bright & small.

I speak at turns, pinned up against the wall
by my own image—what I mean to say:
I say too much.  I mean nothing at all.

I make uncertain choices between all
the right things.  Or the things I want.  I weigh—
the day is sharp, in feeling bright, & small.

I wasn’t very good.  I never called.
I do so little with the time I take.
I say too much.  I mean nothing at all.

I don’t walk, or even wander.  I just sprawl.
So many people die, it seems, each day.
The day is sharp—in feeling, bright & small—

I ended a whole world with just one call.
I hold the line.  I mean the things I say.
The day is sharp in feeling, bright & small—
I say too much.  I mean nothing at all.

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OVER THE BRIDGE by Brenna Peterson, Gordon College, MA

I am here, where the gulls still shriek after
the sun has drifted to bed and has been
gently blanketed by briny mist.  I
am here, where ir rolls thick and heavy through
our window screens to leave ghosts of sea-salt
stained kisses on our brows as we slumber.
I am here, where the moon, like a blushing
bride, gleams from behind the veil of midnight
clouds that shift and curl about her golden
face.  I am here, where I look out beyond
the quiet town and think of the dark tides
to lull my restless mind and bones to sleep.

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