Katherine Flitsch wins Academy of American Poets Contest!

English major Katherine Flitsch (San Luis Obispo, CA) has just won Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Contest for her poem “Howl for the Piedly Pious,” which investigates faith in 21st-century America through a poem inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” She will receive a $100 award from the Academy. Her poem will also be considered for the $1,000 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award.

Judging this year’s contest, poet Rebecaa Morgan Frank said, “‘Howl for the Piedly Pious’ pays homage to Ginsberg in its lines and rhythms but shapes its own significance as an exploration of faith in the 21st century, digging into the realities of examining faith while living as a human in this world, streaming services and all. A standout in sound and sense– the poem builds complexity of thought through song.”

First honorable mention goes to English major Kavya Makam for “Men of Andhra Pradesh,” a poem that is forthcoming in the 2019 edition of Byzantium, Cal Poly’s award-winning literary journal. Frank was taken by the poem’s “distinctive voice and its fine manipulation of syntax, with its author’s control of command and question used to keep the poem’s tone complex as the poem develops. The poet deftly guides us through an imagined world of reversal of gender norms and restrictions.”

Second honorable mention goes to English major Vanya Truong for her poem “my hands take things apart.” “I returned to this poem again and again,” Frank said, “in appreciation of the control of the lines, the way they gradually roll out that masterful simile as it evolves into the larger conceit of the poem, one which reflects the central emotion and action. A beautifully-crafted poem.”

Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of three collections, most recently Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Guernica, Orion, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and editor of the literary magazine Memorious, and she is the Spring 2019 Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University.

The Cal Poly English Department and the Academy of American Poets, which is a longstanding advocate for the art of poetry and is located in New York City, sponsor the contest. The winning poem will appear on the University & College Poetry Prize page of Poets.org.

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