Poetry contest takes place this weekend

Monica Kast

The 21st annual Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing and Poetry Contest will take place this weekend, hosted by WKU.

The annual contest is open to English majors and minors, or any undergraduate student currently taking a creative writing course, according to the contest’s website.

Submissions for the contest were due in September, and 10 finalists from the contest will participate in a workshop hosted by Kentucky Poet Laureate Frederick Smock. Smock is a poet and essayist and currently is an associate professor of English at Bellarmine University in Louisville, according to his website.

Smock, who has previously won the Jim Wayne Miller Prize for Poetry, will select the winners of this year’s contest, according to the contest rules.

Owensboro junior Nathan Mayes is a finalist in the contest. Mayes said he entered the short story contest last year, but this is the first time he has been a finalist.

Mayes’ poem, “Middling Forgiving,” is based on his experience as a middle child and learning to forgive the people in his life. Mayes said his siblings haven’t read the poem yet, but he might show it to them in the future.

Mayes said he was most excited to read the poems written by the other finalists and to attend the workshop hosted on Sunday.

“I’m excited to get feedback from the poet laureate,” Mayes said. “I’m also excited to get experience and hear what feedback he has for the other finalists.”

Burlington junior Delaney Holt is another finalist for her poem, “The Heron.” Holt’s poem is based on a heron she used to watch at her family’s farm. Holt said her father used to shoot at the heron because it would steal fish from the man-made lake on the farm. Holt said her poem looks at the “industrial, materialistic and wildlife … juxtaposition” that she observed on her family’s farm.

Holt said she is excited to participate in the workshop and considers the others who are finalists to be experienced and knowledgeable. Holt said she was looking forward to getting “good constructive criticism” from Smock and the other finalists.

“It’s a chance to grow and get good, solid comments from those who know more than me,” Holt said.

Jim Wayne Miller taught German and literature at WKU for 30 years, until his death in 1996, according to the contest website. Miller wrote several essays, short stories and plays, but was best known for his poetry, according to the website.

Winners of the contest will be recognized at the Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Kentucky Building. The event is free and open to the public, with refreshments served afterward. The first, second and third place winners will receive a monetary prize.

News editor Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monica_kast.