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.
The winner is Leah Kovitch, a college sophomore who lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is studying Human Ecology and Education at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. All students who applied received free gifts, and as the winner Leah will additionally receive a check for $1, 000.
Says Leah, “The title of the scholarship, Poetry for Life, immediately struck me. This fall poetry consumed my life. Poetry for Life felt genuine, capturing the inability to turn poetry off once it enters the mind. I appreciated that the scholarship asked for four poems and two personal statements—as though T.S. Poetry Press wanted to understand who I was as a poet from many angles.”
As to her favorite poets, she notes two: Sharon Olds, who “dares to say the worst things, open raw wounds. She inspires me to just say what I mean—which is something I shy away from.” Also, Anne Sexton, because, “Her poetry is so complex, lovely and chilling. When I read her I feel as if I’m eating her heart.” And it’s Anne Sexton who gets Leah’s vote for favorite poem of all time, with Just Once.
When asked about her go-to writing snack and drink (this is important, as any writer knows!), we had to admit it’s one we could live with quite happily: dark chocolate and chamomile tea.
Leah’s poems were chosen as the top entries not only for their structure and imagery, but also for their depth of thought. Here is a glimpse of her style in “Autumn’s Mortals.”
Kaleidoscopic cathedral ceiling
stroked and stained in firelight;
crimson, rose, scarlet, rust,
pale pink wine,
smolders in the twilight
against conifers’ blackening jade.
Naked boughs – bleached bones
salute to azure sky,
teardrops of golden ochre
cling to skeleton arms,
drip-drop into honey pools
cloaking the forest’s toes.
Archaic boulders quilted in emerald,
silvery slate like broken teeth,
fleeing birds flute farewells,
sunset ribbons entangle bare trees.
Atmosphere sizzles electric
with the phantom martyrs
of fallen leaves.
And I wonder:
will my death be as graceful
as the arc of her arabesque?
Pirouette upon the highest stair,
space crumpling beneath
a ginger leaf,
We wish Leah the very best as she continues her studies and her life with poetry. And we hope she keeps writing. We’d keep reading.
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: