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The English Department Announces the American Scholar Prize Winner!

Jun 9, 2021


 

Congratulations to English Major Jenny Doan

“The scholar is that [person] who must take up into himself all the ability of time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future….[S/]he is the world’s eye.  [S/]he is the world’s heart.”
           
- excerpt from the essay, “The American Scholar,” by Ralph WaldoEmerson

The English Department is pleased to announce that Jenny Doan was chosen as the eighth winner of the department's 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, Jenny cites Shelley’s “A Defence of Poetry” as having been an inspiration.  She notes that, in Shelley’s view, creative writers “influence the parameters of society and shape how individuals perceive the world. Most importantly, Shelley believes that every individual possesses a creative source and a poetic persona inside of them.”  Jenny argues that, “For me, literature has altered the metaphorical confine that I live in by propelling me to question the institutions of society and encouraging me to explore the outskirts of my beliefs.  Literature is not the simple consolidation of words to paint a visual or craft a story, but rather a way of life that intends to teach fundamental truths and morals.”

The English Department awards the American Scholar Prize annually in order to highlight and reward enthusiastic and bright English major scholars.

Byzantium Announces Creative Writing and Art Contest Winners!

Jun 9, 2021


Cal Poly’s English Department is pleased to announce the winners of Byzantium’s 2021 poetry and fiction writing contests, as well as the new art contest:
 

Kevin Clark Poetry Writing Contest

First Place: “Desert, Night,” by Vanya Truong

Second Place: “Zamboni,” by Kavya Makam

Third Place: “My Girl,” by Maya Stahler
 

Alfred Landwehr Fiction Writing Contest

First Place: “The Inn at the Top of the Hill,” by Doug Caylor

Second Place: “The Snake,” by Abby Edgecumbe

Third Place: “Leda and the Poet,” by Mia Daniele
 

Art Contest

First Place: “The View,” by Lauryn Akimi Sugai

Second Place: “patterns & i,” by Katie Tam

Third Place: “workspace,” by Katie Tam
 

The Kevin Clark Poetry Writing Contest was judged by Mag Gabbert, who holds a PhD in creative writing from Texas Tech University and an MFA from The University of California at Riverside. Her essays and poems can be found in 32 Poems, Pleiades, The Rumpus, Thrush, TheMassachusetts Review, Waxwing, The Pinch, and many other journals. Mag is the author of Minml Poems, a chapbook of visual poetry and nonfiction. The Alfred Landwehr Fiction Writing Contest was judged by Akil Kumarasamy, a writer from New Jersey and the author of the story collection, Half Gods, published in 2018, which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She is an Assistant Professor at the Rutgers-Newark MFA program and her debut novel is forthcoming with FSG.

All student winners will be awarded a cash prize, and their creative work will be published in July as part of the 31st edition of Byzantium, Cal Poly’s annual literary journal, alongside the rest of the editor’s selections. Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, all unveiling events will be held online. The journal will be distributed to winners via mail, while students can pick up a free copy of the journal at the Kennedy Library next year as campus continues to safely open.

Follow @cp_byzantium on Instagram to stay up to date and hear more about the unveiling events!

POLY ENGLISH MAJOR WINS ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS PRIZE

Jun 7, 2021


English major Summer Lichtenberg (San Luis Obispo, CA) has won Cal Poly’s Academy of American Poets Contest for her poem “On Sunday,” which takes an unflinching look at mortality and poignantly renders the experience of those left in the wake of a tragedy. She will receive a $100 award from the Academy. 

Award-winning poet Charif Shanahan judged this year’s contest. Shanahan praised “On Sunday” for its “impressive (and nearly essayistic) narrative scope, strong sense of the line and poetic closure, and imagery at once surprising and poignant.” First honorable mention goes to “Pink” by Emily Bomba for its “fine use of sequence, and the couplet within them, as well as the poise and earnestness of voice.” Second honorable mention goes to “A Bending” by Ell Hundertmark for its “extremely pleasurable sonic qualities, which offset the pain of the content, its reaching for philosophical inquiry within the space of the lyric, and the unflinching look at—and into—what to do with our wounds.” 

Charif Shanahan is the author of Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. Born in the Bronx to an Irish-American father and a Moroccan mother, he has lived all over the world and has taught literature and language at numerous universities. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the undergraduate and Litowitz MFA+MA graduate creative writing programs at Northwestern 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.

Writers-at-Work Reading with poet Don Mee Choi February 18th!

Feb 10, 2021


Writers-at-Work presents a reading with poet Don Mee Choi, winner of the 2020 National Book Award for her collection DMZ Colony. Described as a tour de force of political and personal reckoning, the book intertwines the overlapping histories of South Korea and the United StatesChoi will discuss her process of weaving poems, prose, photographs, and drawings to navigate linguistic borders and hold empire accountable.

When: Thursday, February 18, 2:10-4:00 pm

Where: Zoom (register here)

The English Blended B.A. + M.A. Program Application Cycle Opens Feb. 15th!

Feb 10, 2021


The Blended (B.A. + M.A.) Program application cycle for AY 2021-22 will open on Monday, February 15! 

The Blended Program in English allows driven, high-performing students in the major to receive their Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees simultaneously on a five-year timeline, conducting graduate coursework and individualized research projects alongside our traditional M.A. students in their fourth and fifth years at Cal Poly. Students in the Blended Program also have the opportunity to apply for our Teaching Assistance Program, through which they teach first year writing courses in their final year of graduate work. For those of you wishing to take your studies farther and earn an M.A. degree in half the time it typically takes, the Blended Program is for you!

Who is eligible to apply:

English majors with sophomore or junior standing, including transfer students, who hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a minimum major GPA of 3.5 are eligible to apply. (Please note that students whose GPAs fall a little below these numbers are encouraged to submit applications, which the admissions committee will consider.) If you have any questions about your eligibility, please feel free to contact me.

Application Materials:

Applicants will submit the following materials:

  • A completed application form 
  • A personal statement / statement of purpose outlining why you wish to join the Blended Program
  • A five- to ten-page writing sample (specifically, a scholarly essay written for an English class) that demonstrates your potential as a critical thinker and writer within the major
  • Two letters of recommendation, at least one of which must be from an English professor (note that your recommenders will submit letter directly to me)

All application materials will be due by Friday, April 30. Admissions decisions will be announced by May 15th.

Juan Vergara receives third annual Mary Catherine Reedy Scholarship Award!

Nov 2, 2020


Congratulations to Juan Vergara for receiving the third annual Mary Catherine Reedy Scholarship!

Established in 2018, the Mary Catherine Reedy Scholarship is named for the mother of Cal Poly alumnus Roger Reedy (English, ’88). Roger and the Reedy family set up the $1,000 scholarship award to memorialize his mother, Catherine. Roger wrote: “She was a very special individual. She believed in helping others – volunteering her time to great causes throughout her life. She was an avid reader – inspiring all of her eight children to read books from an early age. She was our role model growing up – always putting others first, being kind to everyone she met, caring about the world around her, and always trying to make a positive difference.” The award, which the Reedys plan to fund for at least the next 10 years, is intended for English majors who are the first in their families to go to college.

Chair of the English Department Kathryn Rummell said, “Juan impressed us because of his resilience in the face of personal challenges and his commitment to his education. He is pursuing a double major in English and Spanish, and plans to earn his English teaching credential. He is an outstanding representative of our department and we are thrilled that he is receiving this award.”

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!

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