11 , 2003
Named for Eightieth Glascock Poetry Competition
It was during an
in-class writing assignment in the third grade that Olivia Bustion
'03 first heard her poetic muse. Although it would be many
years before she would find a name for her inspiration—"daimon,"
the Greek word for "inner voice"—Bustion instinctively
knew that she must listen and respond. Her work impressed her
third-grade peers, who gathered to read over her shoulder. More
recently, Bustion's poetry has attracted the attention of
faculty and students at Mount Holyoke, who selected the English
major to compete in the eightieth annual Kathryn Irene Glascock
Intercollegiate Poetry Competition April 25–26.
work is impressive, very impressive," says Associate Professor
of Economics James Hartley, who taught Bustion The Great Books
of Western Civilization three years ago and remains a mentor to
her still. "The substance is intellectually provocative;
Olivia is brilliant and well-read, and it shows in the arguments
she makes in her work. Her arguments make the reader think. Her
poetry is also musically sophisticated. She puts this ability
to great use by making the sound of each poem amplify the argument
of the poem. In short, Olivia is placing herself directly in the
current of Western poetry, building on what has gone on before."
Matins on a Rough Hill
Olivia Bustion '03
For the flowers now that,
frighted, thou let'st fall
From Dis's wagon!'
Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale
After rootlets cleave to the live
Clay, and light on frost becomes light
On pools, and the sun and the rain
Knit bright and wet, and their weavings
Cover the ivy where we kneel;
After violets bruise the hill,
Routing winter ghost and shadow,
And light fills the wet daffodil,
Vital flower, fragile prayer
Caught in the bowl of the blossom;
We praise and guard the glad flower,
A blossom of blessing, winter
Is over. We carry the last
Of our sorrowing in the first
March urn: yellow bud,
Bustion will join
student poets from Amherst College, Connecticut College, Cornell
University, George Washington University, and Haverford College
in a public reading Friday, April 25, at 8 pm in Gamble Auditorium
and will be judged by poets Wyatt Prunty, Rhina Espaillat, and
Rachel Wetzsteon. The poet-judges will announce the 2003 Glascock
winner after a reading of their own work on Saturday, April 26,
at 10:30 am in the library's Stimson Room. They will also
participate in a "Life and Letters" conversation Friday
at 3 pm in the Stimson Room.
"I sit down to write with only a vague conception of what
I will say, but with a clear knowledge of the pattern of the words
by which I will say it," says Bustion, who likes the way
poetry lets her "weave ideas and language and imagery into
lovely patterns." "By the time I have finished writing,
I am aware of a pattern not just in the words but in the argument
of the poem, an argument whose subtleties I did not consciously
prepare before I sat down to write. In the end, I learn something
from the poem I have written. Thus, I regard the experience of
writing poetry, at least in part, as a conversation—a conversation
with my daimon."
After graduating this spring, Bustion hopes to pursue a doctorate
and a teaching career, but she plans to continue writing poetry
throughout her life. "I feel called to say a few things,
which I know I can best say in poetry," she says.
Since 1923, the Kathryn Irene Glascock Poetry Prize Contest has
been bringing undergraduate poets into contact with renowned poets.
Judges have included W. H. Auden, May Sarton, Elizabeth Bishop,
Louise Bogan, Robert Frost, John Crowe Ransom, Denise Levertov,
William Carlos Williams, Adrienne Rich, and Derek Walcott. It
has also launched the careers of some of the twentieth century's
most celebrated poets. Sylvia Plath, Donald Hall, James Merrill,
Kenneth Koch, Katha Pollitt, and Gjertrud Schnackenberg were all
About the 2003 Judges
Wyatt Prunty teaches in the English Department at the University
of the South, directs the annual Sewanee Writers' Conference,
and edits the Sewanee Writers' Series books published by
Johns Hopkins University Press. He is author of a critical book,
Fallen from the Symboled World: Precedents for the New Formalism
(Oxford University Press, 1990), and six collections of poetry,
including Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems (Johns
Hopkins University Press 1999).
Rhina Espaillat writes
poetry, in Spanish and English, for numerous journals and anthologies,
and is the author of three collections: Lapsing to Grace (Bennett
& Kitchel, 1992); Where Horizons Go (New Odyssey
Press, 1998), winner of the 1998 T. S. Eliot Prize; and Rehearsing
Absence (University of Evansville Press, 2001), winner of
the Richard Wilbur Award. Espaillat is also a past winner of the
Howard Nemerov Award and the Sparrow Sonnet Award. She has recently
been awarded the National Poetry Book Award and the Stanzas Prize
for collections to be published as Playing at Stillness and
The Shadow I Dress In.
Rachel Wetzsteon is the author of two books of poems: The
Other Stars (Penguin, 1994), which was selected for the National
Poetry Series, and Home and Away (Penguin, 1998). She
has received an Ingram Merrill grant, and is currently an assistant
professor of English at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.
Students Earn Honorable Mention
The Glascock Committee awarded honorable mentions to two MHC seniors
this year: Shannon Winston-Dolan and Kelly Kealy.
Winston-Dolan, who has been taking creative writing classes and
joining writing camps and groups since fifth grade, calls poetry
a "process of self-examination and renewal" that helps
her better understand herself and the world around her. "Journalism
is something I really enjoy," says Winston-Dolan, who has
written articles for the MHC News and the Chicago Tribune Magazine.
"But, I have to admit, my loyalty is to poetry."
Kealy, coeditor with Winston-Dolan of the literary magazine Verbosity,
can't remember a time that she didn't write creatively.
"Writing poetry is an important part of how I come to understand
my personal experience," she says. "It's a form
of meditation; by concentrating on how to best represent a particular
idea or emotion in language, I'm able to make connections
that are suggested not just by my own ideas and emotions but by
the language itself." Kealy is considering a career as a
reviewer, editor, or travel writer but says that writing poetry
will always be part of her life.