The judges have concluded their deliberations. We are pleased to announce that they have selected Marissa Perez of Holyoke Community College as the winner of the 2020 Glascock Poetry Competition. They have selected Luciana Arbus-Scandiffio of Bennington College as the runner-up. In the judges’ address to the student-contestants, they write "Thank you so much for the honor of participating in this, and for trusting us with these incredible poems.”
Find more about the students and judges on Instagram.
Below, please find the judges’ comments on each student-contestants’ poems.
Winner: Marissa Perez
I especially admired Pacific Coast Highway for its pacing, emotion and its poetics of the winding line mirroring the winding road of California Route 1 itself. The poem instigates an investigation into how the speaker experiences “before and after,” temporality, and even causation, in a beautifully braided form.
Sincerely fascinated by this poet’s often staggering treatment of language as the subject of their interrogation, language itself as the antidote to its own venom. Perez’s sonic landscapes accrue meaning through accumulated connections, inviting (trusting!) readers to leap from moment to moment like charges firing across a synapse—sparking across each gulf, illuminating their path as they move.
This poet has a diverse set of tools at their disposal and seems to know just when to deploy each one to keep the reader on her toes. I’m particularly moved by their willingness to occasionally let the language fail at measuring up to the gravity of the poem’s content--”La Linea” and “Pacific Coast Highway” both being stellar examples of the poet’s ability to put both richness and futility on full display. I’m excited to watch this poet continue to grow!
Runner Up: Luciana Arbus-Scandiffio
Enjoyed the whimsy and sense of absurdity which thread Arbus-Scandiffio”s poems, sly understatement to accompany the poems’ fearless exploration of a genealogy of the self.
There is an essential strangeness, singularity of thinking in Arbus-Scandiffio’s poems that I find so compelling. These poems are ecosystems, complete with their own meteorologies, biologies, physics.
This poet balances the often-painful personal excavations driving their poems with a weird and delightful sort of playfulness. The poet’s imagination is skillfully corralled into restraints on the line level. All in all, an extremely intriguing voice!
I appreciate so much the way this poet works with what’s there and also what’s not, apophatically invoking a catalog of unobtainable treasures (“pumpkin jewel,” “my child’s gaze”) while simultaneously building a beautiful (rhyming!) bouquet of sound. Much formal and conceptual imagination to be praised here.
I love when it’s clear that a poet loves words, and McKenna, I think, is one such poet! The poet deftly leans in to the material (especially sonic) elements of their language in service of their engagement with natural landscapes. But these poems are also driven by love. I’m especially moved by the final poem (“for the mockingbirds, in perpetuity”), where that love gets to be front and center.
This poem navigates some difficult, vulnerable places with great care. As a piece that seems to be working in the tradition of spoken word / performance poetry, I appreciated the moments of crunchier language (“swimming through saccharine”), the subtle rhymes throughout, and the intimacy built between speaker and reader. I think future experiments with concision and high-tension line breaks could yield great results!
American Xavier Gaylord
These poems deploy form to underscore feeling, and fragments to convey trace, both techniques to slow down the reader to express intimacy, hesitation, and mystery. The center of the first poem, “For the Love of a Winston Short” seemed to be “Some people say the hardest things to say” which is repeated. There are two senses of “hard to say” and the delight of the poem is its form fragmenting as it ends.
An intercollegiate event since 1924. Students are nominated by faculty members, and then judged by a panel of three distinguished poets.
2020 Glascock Poetry Contest
- Kaveh Akbar (left; photo credit: Paige Lewis)
- Franny Choi (right; photo credit: Graham Cotten)
- Erica Hunt (center; photo credit: Erica Kapin)
About Kaveh Akbar
Kaveh Akbar is the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017; Penguin UK, 2018). He is also the author of a chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry, 2017). Kaveh is the recipient of the Levis Reading Prize, Pushcart Prize, Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Kaveh is the founding editor of Divedapper, a home for interviews with major voices in contemporary poetry. With Sarah Kay and Claire Schwartz, he writes a weekly column for the Paris Review called "Poetry RX." Born in Tehran, Iran, he teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson. His poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, PBS NewsHour, The New Republic, Best American Poetry, The New York Times, and elsewhere.
About Franny Choi
Franny Choi is the author of two poetry collections, Soft Science (Alice James Books) and Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press). She is a Kundiman Fellow, a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow, and a graduate of the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers Program. She edits for Hyphen Magazine and co-hosts the podcast VS alongside fellow Dark Noise Collective member Danez Smith. She is a current Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in English at Williams College.
About Erica Hunt
Erica Hunt is a poet, and essayist, author of Local History and Arcade, Piece Logic, Time Flies Right Before the Eyes, and A Day and Its Approximates. Her poems and essays have appeared in BOMB, Boundary 2, Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetics Journal, Tripwire, Recluse, In the American Tree, and Conjunctions. With poet and scholar Dawn Lundy Martin, Hunt is co-editor of an anthology of new writing by Black women, Letters to the Future, from Kore Press. Hunt has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Fund for Poetry, and the Djerassi Foundation and is a past fellow of Duke University/University of Capetown Program in Public Policy. She is now the Parsons Family University Professor of Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Long Island University – Brooklyn.
Luciana Arbus-Scandiffio '20, Bennington College
Luciana Arbus-Scandiffio has interned for Poets House, A Public Space, and the Bennington Review. In 2018, she received the Green Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets (selected by Dorothea Lasky). She was raised in suburban New Jersey.
Natalie Bavar '20, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Natalie Bavar (she/her/they/them) is a senior studying English lit and creative writing. She is currently learning the ins and outs of potato planting, strawberry sprouting, and succulent propagation. In her free time, she collects rocks, ground money, bottle caps, can tabs, and various bits of stray metal.
American Xavier Gaylord '20, College of the Holy Cross
American Xavier Gaylord is a senior majoring in English and Economics. When not reading or writing, American Xavier enjoys watching the NFL and NBA, playing chess, and listening to music.
Maren McKenna '20, Mount Holyoke College
Maren McKenna is a student and poet from Southern Maine. Maren is a senior studying Anthropology and Environmental Studies, and is passionate about food justice, birds, independent radio, sustainable agriculture, and color coordination. Maren’s poetry often discusses queerness, family, and world-making.
Marissa Perez ’21, Holyoke Community College
Marissa Perez is a student at Holyoke Community College, where she studies liberal arts and is planning on transferring in the fall of 2020. She is an avid writer of poetry and creative nonfiction. Marissa is thrilled to be participating in this year's Glascock Poetry Contest.
Samiha Swarup ’22, University of Toronto
Samiha (she/her) is a second year English major. Besides spending most of her time writing, she is a musician and enjoys songwriting and performing. She likes to write about things that people are uncomfortable to talk about and hopes to have her work published one day.