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  • AFS Students Honored in the DeSales University Poetry Contest

AFS Students Honored in the DeSales University Poetry Contest

Two AFS students received honorable mentions in the DeSales University Poetry Contest. Senior Margaret Silbaugh won the prize for her poem “Janie” and sophomore Sophia Mele for her poem “Erasure Poetry: Suffocated Waters.”

DeSales professor Steve Myers said, “reading Sophia’s poem in the first round, it delivered the kind of focused impact only a formally tight, short poem is capable of delivering–think of the best of the Basho haikus, or Dickinson, or the Carlos Williams of ‘The Red Wheelbarrow.’ The danger inherent in erasure poetry is that a badly executed erasure poem will read as gimmicky at best, and parody at worst. Through her careful eye for the strong image, Sophia shot free of those dangers and created this small gem of a poem.”

He added that, “Every year for the Poetry Festival contest we receive student poems “In imitation of” or “after” or “in honor of” certain writers or literary works. They are always well-intentioned poetic gestures and each speaks to the student writer’s honoring an important part of her or his work: reading the great works of the literary tradition. But these poems are very hard to do well, so they really stand out. Reading Margaret Silbaugh’s “Janie,” it occurred to me that if the great, great Zora Neale Hurston were still with us (and I wish she were!), I’d urge Margaret to send Hurston her poem, confident the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God would be gratified to receive it.”

Read the poems here:

“JANIE” by Margaret Silbaugh
(after Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God)

In the middle of the night
when no one is looking,
she becomes the under-recognized moon
and spills orange light
over the earth’s cracked surface.

She winds her liquid way
from the sky into the dry cakey cracks of land,
healing and melting the footsteps we made in the day
when we wondered in our ruinous ways.

In the scalding rage of the day,
we forget the moon
and her work goes
She drinks her coffee with the rest of us
and like a woman, she sips the hot liquid
and keeps silent.


we still haven’t learned,
in the heart of the desert,
to believe in
a river.

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