In the past few years, we created the Poetry for Life Scholarship, which is 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.
Students were 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 2017 winner is Teja Dupree, a college sophomore who lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, and is studying Creative Writing at The Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. All students who applied received optional free gifts, and as the winner Teja will additionally receive a check for $1,000.
Says Teja, “I have such a deep love for poetry. Ever since the 3rd grade when I wrote my first poem and felt that overwhelming sense of achievement and fulfillment (from writing and completing just three lines of poetry), the art of writing and specifically poetry has had a special place in my heart. I went to high school for poetry, I go to college for poetry; and I knew immediately when I found Tweetspeak’s Poetry for Life Scholarship that this was perfect for me.”
As to her favorite poets, she notes several: Mary Oliver, the “first poet I ever loved” for her “amazing metaphors [and] thought provoking images.” Teja included a fun fact about Mary, saying, “When she was 17 she drove to the recently deceased Edna St. Vincent Millay’s house to visit for a day and ended up staying there for years, organizing the poet’s papers.”
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Teja is fascinated by the character and life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. One of her favorite Millay lines is “but the rain/ is full of ghosts tonight that tap and sigh/ upon the glass and listen for reply.”
Teja also appreciates poets like Anis Mojgani who “brings words to life with his spoken word poetry [and] creates some of the most unique, heart wrenching, emotional, silly, and vivid poems that I ever heard [and] has written many lines that I wish I had come up with first.”
And though Teja has a budding interest in e.e. cummings, Rupi Kaur, Warsan Shire, Sylvia Plath, and Clementine von Radics, it is Shel Silverstein she will “love always…for defining [her] childhood.”
When asked about her go-to writing drink (this is important, as any writer knows!), we had to admit it’s one we could live with quite happily: tea!
As for her writing habits, we loved this fun tidbit: “I must always write (poetry, fiction) with a purple pen…and I also read with a purple pen— underlining my favorite parts in a piece (whether it’s an amazing metaphor, a memorable quote, a well-written passage).” Then she adds, in a smileworthy sidenote, “My mom gave me 14 purple pens for Christmas because of this, so I have enough to last me for a while.”
Where can you find Teja writing? She shares the secrets: “The first photo is a picture of the Baltimore skyline from Federal Hill, which is one of my favorite places in B’More to go (and prominently features in my writing)…[the second is] the courtyard attached to one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore.”
Teja’s poems were chosen as the top entries for their language play, rhythm, and sound. Here is a glimpse of her style in “I Can See Her Skeleton Tilting.”
I Can See Her Skeleton Tilting
Reaching out towards the ground,
She is collapsing
As we walk.
She treats the cracks like intercostals,
Stepping over them, occasionally
Falling into them, slipping
Down into an abyss. We rest
Together in the void.
She lets me feel the weight of
Her, words lingering in the air,
Lying on my chest.
She has stretched out her lungs
And wrung them out to dry
On the wires of my rib cage
She rests herself on me.
I hang myself on her,
With the end of a rope,
On the tip of her tongue.
We wish Teja the very best as she continues her writing studies and her life with poetry. And we’ll be watching for more from Teja in the poetry world someday!
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 2016-2017 year:
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