Chapbook Contest 2012 Winner Announced

“Lifeless in appearance, sluggish / dazed spring approaches–” in the middle of William Carlos Williams’ “Spring and All.” This description suits early spring in Spokane pretty well, but not our department.
We’re more like the cover of Spring Peeps (photo from lots of lively fauna.
The English Department recently concluded our 2012 Chapbook Contest, judged by Danielle Cadena Deulen.
Matt Comi takes first place for his chapbook “If I Go Away Please Keep My Age a Secret.”
Deulen said of Comi’s work: “This compact and handsomely arranged poetry chapbook explores beauty and loss in equal measure.  Each subject this author explores is utterly precise in both its imagery and emotional impact.  Whether revealing the haunted memory of refinishing a table, or in the unexpected loveliness of a grandmother’s benign tumor, the voice of these poems waivers between lovesong and dirge, and celebrates the bright, dark, unavoidable transience of physicality.  A joy to read.”
Matt Comi said of Matt Comi: “My name is Matt. I study writing and art. I like to make things with my hands.
‘”If I Go Away Please Keep My Age a Secret” is a small collection of recent poems which were already close together. Lately, I have been preoccupied with the process of aging. Making this chapbook was primarily about that.”
Here’s a poem from Comi’s collection:
In Polaroids, Our Aunt Sleeps

beside a gull who squawks and suckles

dark juice from her half plum left

unfinished. Then picked up, it’s carried

to some other northern shoreline.


I don’t give a shit about pictures.


I want whatever is left of her fruit, 

scraped off the beak that tasted 

saccharine life from her plum’s 

thin and fusty breast.

Many thanks to Annie Stillar, Jacquelyn Wheeler, Script, to everyone who entered the contest, and to Danielle Cadena Deulen for serving as our first guest judge!

Danielle Cadena Deulen is a poet and essayist. Her collection of poems, Lovely Asunder, won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and was published with the University of Arkansas Press in 2011. Her memoir, The Riots, published with University of Georgia Press in 2011, won the 2010 AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2011 Grub Street National Book Prize in Nonfiction, and won the 2012 GLCA New Writers Award.  Formerly, she was a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She received her MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and her PhD in English from the University of Utah.  She currently lives in Ohio where she is an assistant professor of poetry in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Cincinnati.

Winners Announced for the 2012 Cut Up & Shut Up Found Poetry Contest

In the bleak mid-winter, I reflected on the Book Sale inventory. Were we really going to sell PMLA journals from ten years ago? What about a circa 1995 Welcome to the Internet guide?

Dr. Fred Johnson strolled by my office while I was staring at this pile of periodicals. Our conversation went something like this.

Fred: What are you doing?

Me: Staring at books.

Fred: What if we could get rid of the less marketable book sale items but in a way that honors their contribution to the world of letters?

Me: Sounds good.

Fred: Let’s try creation by means of destruction. Students take scissors to these journals and create poems of their own, releasing new meanings.

Me: Like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Or something.

Fred: Yes, that’s right. Here, I’ve already created a screen shot showing students what to do.

And thus the 2012 Cut Up & Shut Up Found Poetry Contest was born.

The English Department would like to congratulate our winners. All contest entries were made from discarded book sale materials and are on display outside 252 Westminster.

Isabel Nelson won first prize for her poem “Sonnets: A Guide to the Body (and the Conversation After).” Isabel received a $50 gift card to Auntie’s Books.


In her own words: Isabel is a senior, double-majoring in English (Writing) and Theatre (Performance). She missed out on her dance minor by one class, but is learning to live with it. She has performed in three of the mainstage plays while at WU, playing supporting roles in The Illusion and Eurydice and the lead in Hay Fever. She hopes to continue her acting career after Whitworth, but is quite aware of the odds. Isabel plans on getting a few more degrees and teaching either writing or theatre history at the university level. After graduation, she will spend the summer studying for the GRE, visiting family in England, and dancing a lot of Samba in order to forget she’ll be living with her parents again. The poem was constructed while yelling instructions at Will Smith in I, Robot, none of which he listened to but it all worked out for the best. The poem started its life as a letter to herself, until Isabel began arguing with it.

Second prize goes to Kaitlin Schmidt for her poem “Wake Up Wait.” Kaitlin wins a $20 gift card to Fringe & Fray Resale Clothing and Home Décor.

In her own words: Kaitlin Schmidt is a sophomore English Major on the Writing Track. She is seeking God. This poem came together because she has manufactured God’s “answers” in the past, but now it is time to seek, and then wait. She can’t make him answer, just hope.

Thanks to Julie Riddle, our guest judge.

Julie Riddle is the craft-essay editor for Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction and the creative nonfiction editor for Whitworth’s literary journal Rock & Sling. She also is the senior writer for marketing and development in the university’s communications office.

Thanks also to Annie Stillar, Fred Johnson, and Jacquelyn Wheeler.