MHC's Glascock Representative a Lifelong Poet

Mount Holyoke's representative to the intercollegiate Glascock poetry contest, Tamar Stratyevskaya '99, has been writing poems since she was four years old. "I remember being on a bus tour of churches near Moscow and deciding to write a poem like the grownups," the Russian native recalls. Inspired by the onion-shaped domes on one church, she wrote, "The blue domes crawl into our hearts." After that brief beginning, she never stopped writing poetry.


<<< Tamar Stratyevskaya
At first, of course, she wrote in Russian, but when her family moved to the United States when she was eight, Stratyevskaya attended a bilingual school and soon was composing poems and songs in English and Hebrew as well. She attributes her early interest in poetry to the influence of an uncle whose poems were published in Russian magazines, and to the fact that most books for Russian children are written in rhyme.

In seventh grade, she was voted "most passionate writer," and two years later an English teacher convinced Stratyevskaya to take her writing more seriously. "Before that, it was just something I did. She told me to keep writing because I had a special voice," she says. She kept at it through high school, and took her first college poetry course last semester. All ten poems she submitted for the Glascock poetry contest were written for that course, Introduction to Verse Writing. The course also helped her experiment with nonrhymed poetry, although she says all her poems have a strong rhythmic sense that is part of the Russian literary tradition.

Stratyevskaya's poetic success is especially remarkable since she has a learning disability that makes it hard for her to concentrate and organize her thoughts. Nevertheless, Stratyevskaya's work was selected from nine entries by the Glascock poetry committee, and she will read eight poems during the intercollegiate competition on April 18. Here's a sample of her work.

Snowfall

I woke to miracles this morning,
the earth, its winter quilting finally found,
resolved to end its longing and its mourning,
to let the heavens fall to crystal blossoms on the ground,
to give a little time for contemplation
which autumn's hurriedness did not allow,
to laugh and breathe and sing of frost's creation
and trace the newborn lace upon each bough,
to let the lanterns shine out in the evening
as antidotes to darkness come too soon,
to give a little time for disbelieving
the lonely halo clinging to the moon.


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