The winner of the 2022 Jean Corrie Poetry Contest is Alex Thurtle ’24 for their poem, “curse of a realist.” Our 2022 judge, Paul Tran, said the following about the poem:
This poem, “the curse of a realist,” embodies what makes poetry extraordinary: the presence of a singular self speaking from the page, speech compressed to its most emotionally and psychologically charged elements, and the evident connection between these elements and the formal qualities of the poem. Cast in monostichs, that most diva of stanzas, the poem enacts a mind at work, moving from thought to thought—interrogating the incongruence of what’s expected and what’s given, and interrogating the very nature of meaning, believing, believing in meaning itself. New information surges to the surface with each line, creating and complicating the world of the poem, bringing the reader into the blight of a relationship where the speaker “must learn to pretend.” Shifting from the indicative mood to the interrogative, from past to future tense, and culminating with the speculative—”maybe i’ll dream a bit”—this poem shows how one ultimately endures, by learning, performing, moving, dreaming.
Paul Tran also gave an Honorable Mention to “A Man is Born” from Madeline Marriott ’24, and said the following about the poem:
A poem is effectively patterned language, Carl Phillips writes in the essay, Muscularity and Eros: On Syntax, and what makes a poem memorable is the meaningful breaking of patterns. This poem, “A Man is Born,” patterns the present tense refrain—”Today, a man is born into my family.”—to show how a person is made and remade throughout their life, shaped by events that cause one to be reborn again and again. Following that refrain is an even more incanatory pattern of future tense declarations that map for the reader an individual history, how a self and psyche is cohered—and perhaps equally important, how masculinity and patriarchy and the social conditions regulated by these oppressive systems are formed. Unfolding with complex syntax, the poem breaks its pattern of discrete sentences in the final utterance, two independent clauses joined by a comma: “He will love his father, he will hate him.” This joining or collision shows how “love” and “hate” go together, are inextricable, and achieves what John Keats has described as a marker of excellent poetry: negative capability, the ability for oppositions to remain simultaneously true, possible, vexed, undeniable.
Paul Tran will be joining us in person this Wed., March 9 at 4:10 p.m. for the Jean Corrie reading along with the student winners. Learn more.