Sarah Giragosian '06 will represent Mount Holyoke at the eighty-third annual Kathryn Irene Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Competition. The event will be held Friday, April 28, at 8 pm in Gamble Auditorium and Saturday, April 29, at 10:30 am in the Stimson Room of the Williston Library. Begun in 1923 as a memorial to Kathryn Irene Glascock '22, the competition has long connected talented student poets with distinguished professional poets.
This year's Glascock judges are renowned poets Eamon Grennan, Elizabeth Spires, and Greg Williamson. A "Life and Letters" conversation will be led by this year's poet-judges at 3 pm Friday, April 28, in the Stimson Room, and they will read from their own work at 10:30 am on Saturday, April 29, in the Stimson Room.
Giragosian will be vying for the top spot with Jessica R. Spradling of Dartmouth College, Ashley Williard of Hampshire College, Rachael Hudak of the University of Michigan, Sam Donsky of the University of Pennsylvania, and Kate Broad of Wellesley College.
We recently caught up with Giragosian to ask her about her passion for poetry, the influence that Mount Holyoke has had on her, and how she felt about being chosen as a contestant in one of the most prestigious intercollegiate poetry competitions in the country.
When and why did you start writing poetry?
I've always been writing creatively in some capacity, but I didn't begin to write poetry seriously until college. Poetry just seemed to be the best medium for me. I find that poetry is the only practical medium for one who writes with an air of finality and often excruciating fastidiousness. I simply would never complete anything if I [were] a novelist.
Who are your favorite poets? Why?
There is a handful of poets that I refer to constantly: Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Hart Crane, Marianne Moore, Jane Kenyon, Gjertrud Schnackenberg '75, Robert Pinsky, Mary Jo Salter, and Robert Shaw are such poets. Their aesthetics are all very different, but I suppose that they share an enticing rigor that draws me back to the same poems. I think it's also the familiarity of certain works that is most appealing and comforting.
How has your experience at Mount Holyoke influenced your poetry?
Mount Holyoke has made it really easy for me to focus on my academic passions. Some people speak of the Mount Holyoke bubble disparagingly, but there is something to be said for a place that affords its students a zone free from the distractions and stratifications (social, economic, racial, political, etc.) that become apparent as soon as we leave the Mount Holyoke gates. I also see the hermetic nature of Mount Holyoke preparing me for the insularity of the poet's community. Also, if I didn't have the mentors, friends, and classmates that I have here, I simply would not be producing the work I am. So many of my professors and peers are just exceptional.
How did you feel when you were chosen as this year's Glascock entrant?
Thrilled and terrified; the names of past Glascock participants just sends my heart racing.
What are your plans for the future?
I'll be attending Boston University in the fall to receive my M.A. in poetry. After that, I'd like to staff a literary magazine and try to publish my work.