An intercollegiate event since 1924, the Glascock Poetry Contest is the oldest continuously-running poetry contest for undergraduate students in the country. Students are nominated by faculty members, and then judged by a panel of three distinguished poets.
The 2021 Glascock Poetry Contest will be virtual. While the live event cannot happen due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the competition is still taking place. All events will take place on Zoom over the days of March 25-27, with events featuring our poet-judges Fred Moten, Cameron Awkward-Rich, and Kay Gabriel, as well as the live poetry competition also featuring student-poets from Hampshire College, Houston Community College, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Mills College, and the University of Washington at Seattle.
Alejandra Cabezas, Mount Holyoke College
Alejandra Cabezas is a poet from Antiguo Cuscatlán, El Salvador. Her work is concerned with family histories, the Mayan cosmovision, and movement across Mesoamerica. She's an avid defender of wildlife, and is currently working for the conservation of sea turtles and yellow-naped parrots in the Salvadoran coastline. She will be graduating from Mount Holyoke in the spring with a double major in English and Ancient Studies. Find her on Instagram: @alecabezas.
Julia Kudler, University of Washington at Seattle
Julia is a senior majoring in English with a focus in creative writing. From the time she was a child, she fell in love with stories and language. She has spent the better part of her life weaving narratives and can think of no more rewarding experience than sharing those with others. Her short-form fiction has been featured in the UW literary magazine AU. Beyond the classroom and a growing pile of half to mostly finished poems and short stories, she loves the outdoors, baking, tabletop roleplaying games, and the Oxford comma. Find her online at: juliakudler.com.
Meredith Luchs, Hampshire College
Mer Luchs is in their final semester at Hampshire College working on a book-length collection of poems that explores living in the era of anthropogenic Climate Change. They are a hopeful MFA candidate though have yet to commit to a program. They live in Amherst with their two guinea pigs, Willow and Stevie Nicks, and many plant-children. Find them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/merluchs and on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/starkidmer/.
Felicia Payomo, Mills College
Felicia Payomo (she/her) is a writer from Oakland, California. She is a student at Mills College working towards her BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. By exploring the self within her poetry, she hopes that those who have similar experiences feel seen and recognized after reading her work.
Wafa Shaikh, Houston Community College
Wafa Shaikh is a Creative Writing major at Houston Community College in Texas. She helped start HTX LIT, HCC Katy's literary magazine. Her first publication is at Defunkt Magazine. She is the president of the Creative Writing Club for the 2020-2021 school year. Find her at @wafifi_ on Twitter.
Tovah Strong, Institute of American Indian Arts
Tovah Strong is from a small train town in New Mexico. A senior at the Institute of American Indian Arts, she is studying creative writing with an emphasis in poetry. She also writes prose. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, the Tribal College Journal, Searchlight New Mexico, and others. She cherishes research rabbit holes and watches ravens whenever possible. Find her on Twitter: @tstrongbyandby.
We were really struck by the resonance and music of your words and the delivery of the performance, which leapt into something nearly theatrical. Your reading of “What My Name Sounds Like” made the wide-open spacing and creative lineation of the page tangible out loud and in real time.
In one of your poems you write, “to the world I want to be strange and small,” a line that describes what your poems do, how they attend to the small and plain in order to capture the feeling of being ambivalently estranged. One way that people often talk about what poems are is as inner language encountered by others, scenes for working out the seeming contradiction of being at once singular and of the many, or as you might put it, in a house full of people alone. What I’m trying to say is that you are —and know that you are— a poet of the self, a poet who deeply feels and writes beautifully toward that vexed relation between yourself and the world.
These poems, which are daring and sure in their voicing and arrangement, were read with that same daring, sung with a facility that indicated so much work and practice, the way a musician’s movements in and through structure bespeak authority and ease. “On Entropy’s” surprising turn is a real and promising accomplishment that we know has to open out into even more.
We really appreciated the impeccable architecture of your poems and the questions--about how to live in the face of the ordinary certainty of death, of differentially distributed catastrophe— that you ask from inside of them. You are clearly a poet who watches carefully, who listens with their whole body, who quietly makes a space for life of all kinds to gather.
Living, sounding and thinking everyday brutality requires precision. Sometimes it feels like poetry is a necessary shame. Beauty is suspect and unreliable, like love. We can neither redeem nor do without them. So, in your work they are offered and experienced in spare detail, hard clarity, and unbearable ambivalence. Your spare lyricism is a deep kind of bravery.
Kay: The construction of the poems themselves is really intentional, specific and precise—witness the parallelism between “no, I whisper” and “yes, I reply” in the first and second part of “My Mother’s Orchestra,” or how the same poem deploys the ambiguous senses of “instrument.” In just a few pages, the manuscript builds up a complex internal system of sound, sense, and feeling—“but the word sifts lapilli, not syllable”—to pretty tremendous effect.
Cam: Yes—and equally tremendously—all of that precision and intentional construction never deadens the language or holds the worlds of the poems still. Instead, it allows us to inhabit those moments of flight with you, those moments when intensity of feeling cannot be shared in anything but poetry. When I read your work for the first time what I immediately thought was: here is a poet whose love of language and image is palpable and whose skill in wielding them makes the world appear, to me, newly alive.
Fred: Tovah, you have a way with words, an already apparent gift for singular phrasing that works with an equally unique way of coming upon an image from heretofore untaken angles. It lets you see and say things that haven’t quite been seen and said before, “body bent long/like a half bowl, pink sweater bright like tail feathers.” You give us surprising arrivals by jumping off a step sooner than expected. Your beat and breath are about to become a signature.