This fall, we created the Poetry for Life Scholarship, which was open to applicants of any college major or intended major. It’s just one of the ways we want to emphasize our commitment to Poetry for Life.
In the end, we chose a winner and two finalists—and it was a hard choice between these top three applicants. Each student was asked to submit four original poems of any length and two brief statements about their poetry journey and their poetry writing process. We wanted to get a clear picture of how poetry fits in the lives of these students and where they might go with it in the future.
One of the two finalists is Katie Hibner, a high school senior who lives in Mason, Ohio, and who intends to study English in college. All students who applied received free gifts, and as a finalist Katie additionally received a print copy of How to Read a Poem and a surprise check for $25.
Says Katie about the Poetry for Life Scholarship, “Poetry has been my passion since the age of nine, and I knew that dedicating my higher education to it would lead me down a precarious, uncertain path. Most of the published poets I’m familiar with have been supported with similar grants and scholarships, so I knew that applying for one would be a promising way to finance my education.”
As to favorite poets, Katie has many. She says, “Dara Wier is one of my favorites because when I read her collection You Good Thing for the first time, I almost felt autoscopy. Wier winds her images into throbbing gas balls, stinging at the touch. I also adore the extraterrestrial style of Julie Doxsee. Her micro-vignettes crackle and fizz in their own little vacuums, and you don’t resist when they yawn to suck you in. I also adore: Bruce Covey, Sylvia Plath, Frank O’Hara, D.A. Powell, Peter Gizzi, Bob Hicok, Brenda Shaughnessy, and so many more!”
When asked about her favorite poems of all time, Katie offered, “I’m divided between Julie Doxsee’s ‘To Be Opened After My Death’, a torrential corkscrew of metaphorical fantasy, Dara Wier’s ‘Blind Eyes in No-Man’s Land’, which I actually wrote a college essay about, and D.A. Powell’s Ode to Joy, which uses rapid-fire wit to embody the love-drunkenness of adolescence perfectly.”
Katie’s answer to her go-to writing snack and drink made us smile: “Starbucks mocha with any of their bakery items. Very original, I know.”
Her poems were chosen as one of the finalist entries for their startling imagery and whimsy. Here is one that was also first published at Smoking Glue Gun:
I Was Fired by Hallmark
The food-runner/intern was a glitter pony
quoting the quote bureau,
so covertly I tried to rewrite her sonogram—
a woolly mammoth would spring out
fringed in gritty beads stamped confidential,
paprika poking up through the oatmeal.
When I presented it to her I scorned the soporific,
how the suits’ tented skin wilts
into an unwholesome leather lunchbox
the consumer can still cup in their handful of handfuls.
She tattled on me.
I guzzled popcorn during my tribal tribunal—
in the end, they wanted their stuff back.
Too bad I had dusted off my final eaglet
for last week’s phoned-in mating call.
We can’t wait to see where Katie goes with her pursuit of English as a major. And we wish her the best as she keeps making a life with poetry.
Your support makes it possible to extend the generosity of programs like the Poetry for Life Scholarship. Meet the supporters who helped make this scholarship possible for the 2014-2015 year: