As a part of the University’s refocused efforts to promote a culture of writing on campus, the Masland Library hosted its first Student Poet Laureate competition on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
While the Library has been celebrating the National Poetry Month of April for several years, Cairn University faculty and alumni have joined in its efforts to celebrate poetry throughout the entire school year. Dr. Brian Toews, Provost, and the Academic Leadership Team have been considering how writing, both academic and creative, can play a greater role in the University, and the idea of a poetry competition arose. In September, the Library staff stumbled across W.H. Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939.” The poem is about apathy, and the poet says, “All I have is a voice/ To undo the folded lie.” As the University is in its second century, the Library sought students to give voice–not to apathy–but to hope. Thus, the theme of the Masland Library Student Poet Laureate competition for 2014-15 was hope.
Throughout the month of October, Mrs. Charlotte Gleason, part-time Professor in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, collected poetry submissions and agreed to lead a judging panel of faculty and alumni. The panel of judges included: Dr. Brain Toews; Mr. Joseph Caminiti, Associate Professor in the School of Music; Mrs. Heather Palladino, poetry enthusiast and wife of Mr. Chris Palladino, Assistant Professor in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Mrs. Bethany Lukas and Mrs. Abbey Overby, Cairn alumni and high-school English and creative writing teachers.
On Wednesday evening, participants gathered together alongside faculty, judges, and students for a poetry reading held in the Masland lobby. There were 13 entries in total, and the poems were all well-received by the audience. The judges retired to a separate location to make their decision while the audience enjoyed refreshment prepared by the Library staff. When the judges returned, they announced Danielle Redden as the Masland Library Student Poet Laureate of 2014-15.
Danielle Redden is a sophomore pursuing a B.A. in Liberal Arts and a minor in Social Work. She is an Arts & Culture First Year Program alumna, and is interested in the arts (visual, literary, performing, and musical), history, missions, theology, and travel. After graduation, Danielle plans to work as a missionary in Africa.
Regarding Danielle’s poem “Day is Dawn,” Mrs. Gleason commented: “In addition to her attention to syntax, her imagery, and use of allusion, Danielle presented her poem with conviction. Each of the judges recognized the quality of her work, and we all felt that her poem clearly–and elegantly–conveyed the theme of hope that we wanted to hear. Finally, the structure of her poem worked well visually, allowing the reading of it to progress naturally from the first line to the last line.”
The Masland Library Student Poet Laureate competition of 2014-15 was a successful event, providing students with the opportunity to write and present their creative writing, and for the University community to gather together and find encouragement in the various images of hope.
Day is Dawn
by Danielle Redden
A river of gold
seeps into the cracks of pain
To plant seeds of life.
Life where there ought not to be.
On the remnants of the battlefield
Guns splayed upon the weathered grass
Head against shells of rattled past.
Single ragged breath
From lips cracked
As if the earth had quaked
and split the ground
Awake you empty flesh
Awake you clattering bones
Awake you withered soul
Look unto the sky.
The surrounding abyss
Rumbles and Quivers,
Unable to contain the beat
Of the approaching hooves.
Look up fallen guard
Soldiers scarred by victory
Look upon raised flag
The rider arrives with the dawn.