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Poetry Contest and Inaugural Poetry Festival

by Zoraida Pastor

This semester St. Thomas University had its inaugural poetry festival that culminated in a college-wide poetry contest. The festival began by giving students a “poem in (their) pocket.” Students received poems in scrolls, and they learned about upcoming dates and events. The poetry festival ran from April 15 until April 18, 2024. The festivities ended with the Bobcat poetry contest.

The winner of the inaugural Bobcat poetry competition was Freshman and Budding Poet, Jessica Siffrard, who led a poetry slam on April 24 in the Rathskeller Student Lounge.

Each day of the poetry festival had its activities; day one began with a “Poem in your Pocket,” and on day two, the festival (April 16) gave students a “Passport to Poetry.” Students learned about poems and poetry from around the world by attending a poetry fair and visiting different poetry stations. At the information table (station one), they were given a blank passport that they would need to get stamped by going to each table/station.

Professor Francis Altomare dressed in a full knight custom to inspire students during the “Passport to Poetry’s” Poetry Pause. He read Beowulf to students in old English. Professor Melissa Beneche taught students about Caribbean poetry and gave the audience insight on the meaning of the word Caribbean. Her station was another highlight of the event.

Students mentioned that the “Passport to Poetry” event was a highlight of their university experience, and they “wished for more events like this.” Psychology student Cameron mentioned that this event was “bittersweet because he was graduating, and there were no such events prior to this.” Students responded very positively to the “Bug Poetry Station” and to presentation of “Latin American Poets.”

On Wednesday, April 17, STUdents rolled up their sleeves and attended the Creative Writing Workshop Bonanza. Professors Kelly Wolfe and Zoraida Pastor brought poetry to life for students and helped them enter the contest by completing a poem during the workshop.

In the workshop bonanza, students could choose to make an erasure poem from old police reports, or from “trashy novels.” Erasure poetry calls for blacking out or erasing phrases from an already published piece of writing. Students also wrote poems dedicated to their past, future, or present selves, and athletes had a chance to describe what it feels like to be an athlete and play a game.

The festival culminated with award-winning poet Marci Calabretta’s poetry reading and reception. Students were able to listen to an award-winning poet talk about her craft and helped them feel that failure is not something to be feared.

Without a doubt, the STU English Department Poetry was a hit with our students. They collaborated with literature and poetry in new, refreshing ways, marking an impact in their collegiate experience.



Kris Williams

Author Kris Williams

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