Poetry coffeehouse draws crowd of 100

Coffeehouse scene

Guests at the coffeehouse enjoy hors d’oeuvres and an assortment of coffees.

Winners announced, Northerns honored for 10 years of service

Local writers and an award-winning poet drew a crowd of about 100 to the 10th annual Poetry Coffeehouse event at Seward County Community College April 12. Winners in three categories received a warm reception as they read their work and collected prizes ranging from scholarship awards to signed copies of award-winning poet Rebecca Aronson’s newest collection of work.

Aronson, who judged the contests for ages high school junior and older, read several selections from her work, chatted with local writers, and signed copies of her collection.

Meet the poet

Poet Rebecca Aronson signs copies of her most recent collection.

“I met Rebecca at Sewanee [writer’s workshop] last summer, and she’s a very talented poet,” Northerns said. “She’s also a really great person.” 

Aronson is the author of Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, winner of the 2016 Orison Books poetry prize and finalist for the 2017 Arizona/New Mexico book awards, and Creature, Creature, winner of the Main-Traveled Roads Poetry Prize (2007). She is co-founder and co-host of Bad Mouth, a series of words and music in Albuquerque, where she also teaches writing.

Her website is http://rebmarack.wixsite.com/rebecca.

Although a few of the 10 award-winners were unable to attend, several local writers read their work. Open category winner Jose Rodriguez performed his poem “Packing Plant,” which documented a summer job in the local industry. Fellow open category winners Karen Wilson and Lois Magner also performed poetry connected to real-life experiences.

In the young poets category, students from grades six to 10 covered topics from first love to death, with humorous stops along the way.

“I’m so impressed by these young writers,” Northerns said. “It’s not easy to get up in front of a crowd to read your work, and I can’t imagine doing it when I was that age.”

Scholarship category winners, high school juniors and seniors, showed up with instructors, friends, and intense presentations.

“I was so focused on making sure my students brought copies of their poems, I forgot to print out my own,” said LHS English instructor Josh Paulus, who brought home an honorable mention award in the open category for a poem about writer’s block. Satanta English instructor Ryan Burrows cheered on his winners in both the scholarship and young poets categories.

Poetry photo booth

Students work together to write a poem on the spot.

Guests at the event snacked on fancy hors d’oeuvres, coffee, cocoa, and lemonade through the evening. SCCC students Alize Garcia, Biviana Rodriguez, and Obadiah Barnett provided live music. Poetry “photo booth” displays provided an opportunity for guests to create their own magnetic poetry compositions. A display also highlighted a joint project between SCCC student photographers and creative writers, who collaborated to write poems about photographs, and take photographs inspired by poems. 

J with roses

Northerns and Carter.

An unexpected highlight of the evening was a gift of a dozen yellow roses for SCCC English instructor Janice Northerns, who helped found the popular event. Northerns will retire at the end of this academic year.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Todd Carter, thanked Northerns for her dedication to poetry and student writing.

“We are so glad you came to us from Texas to do this work,” he said. “We appreciate you.”


2019 Scholarship Category Winners

(area high school juniors and seniors)

Scholarship winners

Enter a caption

1st Kenia Hermosillo, Satanta: “Never You”

The poem’s short lines and sparse language create a sharp point, with directness and clarity. The voice is conversational, intimate, and one I immediately trusted. — Rebecca Aronson

2nd Kristen Kinsella, Liberal: “When I Invite People Inside”

In this poem, Kristen cleverly creates a narrative that implies both the external mess of a house or a room, and the internal mess of a complex emotional state. The metaphor is simply drawn and compelling.  — Rebecca Aronson

3rd Brittani Lauppe, Satanta: “Lost and Found”

Brittani’s poem surprised and charmed me as the speaker declares her newly re-discovered love for herself. The voice in this poem is vulnerable, authentic, and brave. — Rebecca Aronson

Honorable Mention Awards

(listed alphabetically by writer’s last name)

Leslie Cabrera, Satanta:   “Drown in the Waters”

Lake Sunderland, Satanta: “The Ride”

Haley Yancey, Liberal:   “MeDiCaTiOn”

2019 Open Category Winners

(adults and SCCC students)

Open category2

1st Jose Rodriguez, Liberal: “Packing Plant”

Jose’s attentive use of detail, dialog, and form creates a portrait of a place—the packing plant—and takes us through the speaker’s summer job there, with humor and a razor sharp eye. — Rebecca Aronson

2nd Karen Wilson, Liberal: “On Buttons and Bobbins”

In this poem, the speaker describes a jar of buttons and with each button described a little story unfolds, a character is revealed, a picture is conjured. Karen’s poem is whimsical and enchanting. — Rebecca Aronson

3rd Lois Magner, Liberal: “Words with Friends”

Using the internet game as the title, Lois’s poem shows us a speaker in the aftermath of divorce. I admire the way in which dialog spoken by friends and others reveals the speaker’s story. — Rebecca Aronson

Best SCCC Student Poem:

Calen Moore, Liberal: “September Sorrows”

This beautiful poem moves across the page in ways that invite readers to follow this speaker’s associations and memories; the images are clear and the poem brims with emotion and color. I was very moved by this evocative piece. — Rebecca Aronson

Open Category Honorable Mention Awards

(listed alphabetically by writer’s last name)

Maria Fehr, Ingalls: “Wilderness”

Penny Forbes, Elkhart: “I’ll Never Forget You”

Lois Magner, Liberal: “Dammit, I’m Mad”

Joshua Paulus, Liberal: “Echo Voice”

2019 Young Poets Category Winners

(grades 6-10)

Young poets

1st Jody Zimmerman, Satanta: “I Hope”

Revenge poems have a hallowed history, and this one, which is also a free-form sonnet, is tight, and threatening, and powerful. But it’s also fun. Jodi nailed it.

2nd SaKya Milburn, Elkhart: “My Protector”

We were drawn to SaKya’s poem, not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say. She deftly uses the tools of poetry to convey what’s on her mind and in her heart without saying it outright but  says it very well.

3rd Melvin Le, Liberal: “A Bird, A Book,  A Flower”

Aside from the personal feelings that are obvious here, this poem’s strength is its extended metaphor. Melvin carries the title nouns all the way through, consistently.

Honorable Mention Awards

(listed alphabetically by writer’s last name)

Abigail Dowell, Liberal: “The 4 Elements”

Mikyn Hamlin, Hugoton: “Puzzles”

Zylee Ipson, Turpin: “Bubbles”

Ashley Johnson, Turpin, “Illinois”

Shillelagh Kentner, Garden City: “Intoxicated Woman”

Abi Rivas, Liberal: “I Don’t Like Finishing Pages”

Jody Zimmerman, Satanta: “Death”

Categories: Campus, Humanities Division

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply