Victoria White ’14 and Yvonne Fu ’14 earned first place in the eighth annual Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by The Kenyon Review. This award recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors. Victoria’s poem “Elephant Grave” and Yvonne’s poem “Dear Poet” were selected from nearly 650 submissions. This was the first tie in the contest’s history.
Both Victoria and Yvonne worked on their poems in Lisa Baker’s Creative Writing class, which is run in a workshop format. Students read each other’s work, offering critique and inspiration, as the writers flesh out their ideas.
“Ms. Baker really pushes us,” says Yvonne. “The whole class is just amazing. I received helpful feedback on my poem from the other students, who I really admire. They are such a motivated and dedicated group of people.”
Victoria agrees, that “having other people discuss your work seriously is a great, motivating feeling.”
Yvonne is a new sophomore from Nanjing, China, and she is experiencing a year of many “firsts.” This is her first time writing poetry, let alone writing poetry in English. Her image-driven, prize-winning poem is set in China.
Victoria’s poem was inspired by a quote she read in a biology textbook about how elephants collect and transport the bones of their dead. It is about a younger sibling whose older brother dies at war. Both students spent a significant amount of time working on their poems, which paid off.
“By the time I submitted [my poem], I had thought about every word and made sure I liked them all,” says Victoria.
As winners, Victoria and Yvonne both receive a full scholarship to attend Kenyon Review‘s 2012 Young Writers summer program. Their poems will also appear in the Fall 2012 issue of The Kenyon Review.