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The English Department Announces the American Scholar Prize Winner!

May 19, 2020


The English Department is pleased to announce that Natascha Holenstein was chosen as the seventh winner of the American Scholar Prize. 

The American Scholar Prize award was created by Dr. Linda Halisky, former English Department Chair and College of Liberal Arts Dean, to recognize an English major whose passion for literature is palpable. The $750 prize is awarded to a Cal Poly English major who exhibits an interest in literature and language – someone who is “lit up” by literature. 

In her short essay, Natascha focused on Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone. She wrote that the play illustrated for her the possibility of strong women characters, despite the absence of them in much of the literature she has read. She wrote: “Antigone not only inspired a renewed interest in the older literature I had to read for my major, but it made me angry; I wanted all women to be written with the same depth and dimension as her.” Her essay demonstrates Natascha’s deep commitment to literary study and her understanding of the power of representation. 

 

CAL POLY ENGLISH GRADUATE STUDENT WINS ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS PRIZE

May 12, 2020


English graduate student Caleb Nichols (San Luis Obispo, CA) has won Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Contest for his poem “Ken,” which considers how to maintain awareness and connection in this moment of virtual interaction. He will receive a $100 award from the Academy. 

Former Cal Poly professor and current SLO county poet laureate, Kevin Clark, judged this year’s contest. Of Nichols’ poem, Clark said, “Ken’ serves as a dazzling caution-note urging readers to separate themselves from contemporary life’s empty diversions and to find succor in the natural world. Proffering a kind of perception akin to dream-pursuit and sounding out an imperative for healthy survival, the crisp nine-line poem plays on the word ‘ken,’ which suggests not simply knowledge but depth of vision. Nichols advises that true vision is only possible if we ‘unfollow’ every day's myriad incoming distractions. A model of concision, ‘Ken’ is deeply inventive in sound, imagery, and approach.”

First honorable mention goes to English major Maya Stahler for “Hide ‘n Seek.” Clark noted the poem’s “startling exploration of the manner in which anxiety can lead to personal disorientation. By examining how the psyche under pressure may further its own fright, the poet persuasively renders the inevitable path into further anxiety. Arranged in four irregular stanzas, Stahler’s poem smartly employs tactile imagery to depict an intangible state, that is, an agitated mind.”

Second honorable mention goes to Art & Design major Joshua Ronda for his poem “Weed of Grass.” “Among other things,” Clark said, “Ronda’s poem can be read as a verse eco-warning spoken in the voice of plants. Deft in its imaginative word choice and its lilting sound, the poem reminds us that human beings are responsible for our natural locale. Should we continue to misapprehend our effect on the land, earth’s flora will be forced to isolate us from the benefits it offers—and perhaps from life itself.”

Kevin Clark’s Self-Portrait with Expletives won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series Book Competition, and a new collection, The Consecrations, is forthcoming in 2021. His textbook on writing poetry is used in classrooms across the U.S. Recently, his chapbook rendering the scars of war, The Wanting, won the Five Oaks Press chapbook prize. He is the current Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo County.

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.

Academy of American Poets Contest!

Apr 24, 2020


Poetry Contest
Open to All Cal Poly Students

First Place Prize: $100
Judge: Kevin Clark



About the Judge:

Kevin Clark’s Self-Portrait with Expletives won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series Book Competition, and a new collection, The Consecrations, is forthcoming in 2021. His textbook on writing poetry is used in classrooms across the U.S. Recently, his chapbook rendering the scars of war, The Wanting, won the Five Oaks Press chapbook prize. He is the current Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo County.

Guidelines:

  • Must be currently registered to enter
  • Submit up to three poems, totaling no more than 150 lines
  • Include all poems in a single Word document or PDF, with your name and email in the righthand corner of everypage; name the file with your last name only
  • Send via email to the English Department at english@calpoly.edu; write “Academy of American Poets contest” in the subject line
  • Deadline: Friday, May 1, at 4PM

Byzantium Announces Creative Writing Contest Winners!

Apr 9, 2020


Cal Poly’s English Department is pleased to announce the winners of Byzantium’s 2020 poetry and fiction writing contests:


KEVIN CLARK POETRY WRITING CONTEST 

First Place: “Merry Christmas. Also, Where is Bora Bora?,” by Alexandra Sara

Second Place: “Los Campos,” by Luke Bartell

Third Place: “Farmers’ Market Benediction,” by Sarah Rabbon 

ALFRED LANDWEHR FICTION WRITING CONTEST 

First Place:  “The Sister’s Coat,” by Mia Daniele

Second Place: “Sea Sick,” by Abby Edgecumbe

Third Place: “The Liar & His Lyre: A Most Unbelievable Tale Told by an Unreliable Source,” by Ellie Desmond

The poetry contest was judged by Ellen Bass, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a professor in Pacific University’s MFA program; her most recent book, Indigo, was released by Copper Canyon Press in February 2020. The fiction contest was judged by Silas Zobal, the author of The People of Broken Neck and a short-story collection called The Inconvenience of the Wings. Zobal has published short fiction and essays in The Missouri ReviewNorth American ReviewShenandoahLit HubGlimmer Train, and many others.

All student winners will be awarded a cash prize, and their work will be published in the 2020 issue of Byzantium, Cal Poly’s annual literary journal, alongside the rest of the editors’ selections. This year marks the 30th publication of this celebrated student publication. In light of COVID-19 campus closures, plans for distribution of the journal and any sort of unveiling event are still up in the air, but certainly the journal will be published in June all the same, and free copies will be available for pick up in Kennedy Library once campus opens up again.

Follow @byzantium.calpoly on Instagram to stay up-to-date!

Careers In English

Jan 9, 2020


Hear from Cal Poly English alumni about their careers in writing, public relations, tech, and nonprofits; then participate in an interactive workshop!


SATURDAY, JANUARY 25
12 PM - 2 PM
BUILDING 22, ROOM 315


RSVP to english@calpoly.edu by January 21
Lunch will be provided
Continue reading Careers In English ...

Juan Vergara Wins the American Scholar Award!

May 30, 2019


Junior Juan Vergara won this year's American Scholar Award!

The American Scholar Award was established by former English professor and dean Linda Halisky to recognize an English major who is "lit up" by literature. Juan's winning entry described how Gloria Andaldúa's "Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers" helped him become comfortable with representing his own thoughts and selfhood freely; he describes her essay as "picking a bone in my body and riling me up."

Byzantium Announces Creative Writing Contest Winners!

May 16, 2019


Cal Poly’s English Department is pleased to announce the winners of Byzantium’s 2019 poetry and fiction writing contests:

 

KEVIN CLARK POETRY WRITING CONTEST 

First Place: “Beach Bois” by Cole Tretheway

Second Place: “Men of Andhra Pradesh” by Kavya Makam

 Third Place: “an ode to raw oyster because Pablo Neruda wrote about eel soup” by Vanya Truong 

AL LANDWEHR FICTION WRITING CONTEST 

 First Place:  “Beyond Stagnant Waters” by Conor Walsh

 Second Place: “My Life at the Mercy of an Other” by Wylie Hughs

Third Place: “Tumble Dry” by Kendra Coburn

The poetry contest was judged by Maggie Anderson, author of five books of poems, most recently Dear All. She is Professor Emerita at Kent State University and the founding director of the Wick Poetry Center. The fiction contest was judged by Cal Poly alumnus Johannes Lichtman, author of the acclaimed 2019 novel Such Good Work

All winners will be awarded a cash prize, and their work will be published in the 2019 issue of Byzantium, Cal Poly’s annual literary journal. Please join us for the unveiling in June to get a copy and to hear the authors and other contributors read from the issue. Details to be announced soon.

Katherine Flitsch wins Academy of American Poets Contest!

May 10, 2019


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.

Academy of American Poets Contest

Apr 15, 2019


The Academy of American Poets contest is open to all Cal Poly students! The first place prize is $100. Apply by Thursday, April 25th, at 4 p.m.

Guidelines

Must be registered currently to enter.

Submit up to three poems, totaling no more than 150 lines.

Include all poems in a single Word document or PDF; name the file with your last name only.

Send via email to the English Department at english@calpoly.edu; write “Academy of American Poets contest” in the subject line.

Deadline: Thursday, April 25th at 4 p.m.

 

Continue reading Academy of American Poets Contest...

Cal Poly Senior, Amelia Meyerhoff created "The Clapback" to promote empathy for victims of sexual violence.

Apr 8, 2019


Cal Poly Senior, Amelia Meyerhoff created "The Clapback" to spark a movement that will promote empathy for victims of sexual violence, provide survivors a validating platform to voice their experiences, foster a community of survivors, and raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and rape on college campuses.

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