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GCC Celebrates National Poetry Month with Annual Contest

May 01, 2015

Batavia, New York – Students who range in age from 16 to 55 earned top honors in the 14th annual Student Poetry Contest sponsored by the Alfred C. O’Connell Library at Genesee Community College. They were recognized at a reception and poetry reading in the library on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

First place went to Justine Kenney for her poem “Freedom’s Bond,” which shares the feeling she gets when she rides a horse. Justine is in her first semester of study at GCC and will enter the veterinary technology program in the fall. Her father, Darrin, is a GCC alumnus. Justine takes inspiration from animals as well as classic poets Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickinson. “I normally write right before I go to bed as I’m unwinding,” she stated. “It helps to just let the words flow out and it gets me relaxed enough to fall asleep.” Justine has had both writing and artwork published in Brockport High School’s literary magazine Ink’n’Art.

A musician and songwriter, Cierra Hand has found “poetry was something that came very easy for me.” She earned second place for her poem “Soldier,” which was inspired by a photograph of a WWII soldier. The poem alternates between what he might have felt as a soldier and thoughts of his newly wed wife at home. A native of Interlaken, NY Cierra is studying Communications and Media Arts at GCC. She plans to transfer this fall to Ithaca College to pursue Television and Radio Production. Besides creative endeavors, Cierra also enjoys playing and watching soccer, basketball and football.

Sixteen-year old Cheyenne Zaremba is an ACE (Accelerated College Enrollment) student at GCC who is passionate about creative arts. Her writing has been featured several times in Canvas, a teen literary journal produced by Writers & Books in Rochester. Her poem “Wanted: One Mind, Lost” impressed the judges, who particularly liked some of the images created by her words such as those in the first stanza:

“Where is my youth?

I think I lost it among the

rows of identical houses—

all white, and clean and

perfectly spaced like

privileged teeth—“

Cheyenne hopes to pursue a career in writing and editing in the future.

Two students earned Honorable Mentions: Jay Rothmund for his poem “Look at Yourself” and Matthew Cray for “Window Seat.” Rothmund wrote his poem 34 years ago. “I consider myself to be a 55-year old college student that hasn’t yet decided what I want to be when I grow up!” he said. A history major, he plans to transfer to The College at Brockport this fall.

The final award for Haiku/Short Form poem went to Dennis Bleier. Dennis is also a dual-enrolled student, taking GCC classes while still in high school. He enjoys writing about life events and appreciates the support of his parents and twin sister.

Each poet received a gift card and a blank journal to continue writing. The GCC Literary Club also provided poetry anthologies from Nate Pritts, who visited GCC in January and gave a poetry reading in the art gallery.

More than 50 poems were submitted. A six-member panel of judges selected the winners. All of the winning poems and a photograph of their writers can be found on the library’s website http://www.genesee.edu/library/about-the-library/poetry-contests/.

For more information, contact Cindy Hagelberger, Reference Services Librarian (585) 343-0055 ext. 6231 or via email: CSHagelberger@genesee.edu.


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