Liberal, Kans.— Contest winners read their poems to a packed house Wednesday evening at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School’s fifth annual Poetry Coffee House. Around 80 people turned out for the event, which also featured SCCC/ATS students and faculty reading poetry.
Event organizers Bill McGlothing and Janice Northerns, SCCC/ATS English instructors, pronounced the evening a success.
“It was one of the best nights yet, in terms of quality and variety of poems, crowd size, and most important, warmth and attentiveness of the audience,” McGlothing said. “They listened carefully and appreciated what they heard. The poets were warmly rewarded.”
Winners were announced in two categories of the poetry contest. Taking first place in the Scholarship Category for area high school juniors and seniors was Olivia Robinson of Liberal for her poem “Grace.” Second place went to Colton Lentz, Balko Okla., for “A Sheepman Gives In,” and winning third was Elizabeth Carmona, Sublette, for “A Thought That Makes Me Sad.” Robinson and Lentz were each awarded a $100 scholarship by the SCCC/ATS Foundation.
Honorable Mention awards in the scholarship category went to Elle Blankenship, Nate Cearley, and Leah Miller, all of Sublette.
Winning the Open Category (ages 14-adult) was Julee Davis of Liberal with her poem “Ambivalence.” Second place went to Nathan Dowell, Liberal, for “The Force Behind,” and third place to William Seifert, Liberal, for “The Resultant Collateral Damage of Change.” An award for Best SCCC/ATS Student Poem went to Christie Proctor of Liberal for “Tonight.”
Honorable Mention winners in the Open Category were Regan Matteson, Sublette; Ashley Oropeza and Noemi Rodriguez, both of Liberal; and Lindsey Woodbury, Beaver, Okla.
In addition to the two scholarships, poetry contest prizes included signed copies of contest judge William Wenthe’s latest book, cash awards, Magnetic Poetry sets, coupons for pizzas, cheesestix, and wings donated by Pizza Hut, gift cards donated by Spencer Browne’s Coffee House and the Saints Bookstore, and SCCC/ATS merchandise.
The contest drew a record 110 entries this year with submissions from Liberal, Dodge City, Ulysses, and Sublette, as well as Guymon, Balko, and Beaver, Okla.
Contest judge William Wenthe, a poet and professor at Texas Tech University, addressed the large number of submissions in his written comments. “Superficially, a contest is about First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and so on. But poetry sees beyond the superficial, and what this contest is really about is abundance” Wenthe said. “By abundance I mean many things: first the abundance of poems in this contest, and also the abundance of human spirit, of imagination, and of experience. This contest is a way of highlighting this abundance, of gathering it together; it is every poem entered that makes this contest valuable.”
In addition to contest winners, the Poetry Coffee House also showcased SCCC/ATS students reading poetry, along with SCCC/ATS English instructors Bill McGlothing and Janice Northerns. Even the college president, Dr. Duane Dunn, got into the act, reading an original poem composed for him by McGlothing and Northerns.
Readers from SCCC/ATS included Julee Davis, Ed Kentner, Azucena Juarez, Christie Proctor, Aletha Moon, Kyleigh Becker, Lynn Donovan, and Virginia Grant. Donovan and Grant were also presented awards they won from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for writing that appeared in last year’s Telolith. Grant received a third place award for closed (traditional) form poetry, and Donovan was awarded a certificate of merit for a nonfiction piece.
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by SCCC/ATS student Juan Carlos Contreras.
This was the fifth year for the Poetry Coffee House, and organizers plan to continue it.
“April is National Poetry Month, and hosting a Coffee House is a great way to allow folks to enjoy listening to some of our local poets,” Northerns said.
Poems by several of the SCCC/ATS students who read at Wednesday’s Coffee House will appear in the upcoming edition of Telolith, the school’s award-winning creative writing/art journal. The new issue will be out in early May, and a reception is planned for 12:30 p.m. May 13 in the lobby of the Shank Humanities Building at SCCC/ATS to celebrate its release and honor the contributors. The public in invited.