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April 30, 2013

Hartwick junior named poetry prize winner

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — English major Elizabeth Greco has won Hartwick College’s 2012-13 Anna Sonder Prize with her poem, “Girl.”

“In its language and imagery and depth of feeling, it really stood out,” said Professor Robert Bensen, chairman of the prize committee.

“The use of Spanish judiciously helped lend authenticity and color to the poem,” he added.

Greco, a Hartwick junior from North Canaan, Conn., said she writes a few days each week.

“I’m an English major and have a concentration in creative writing, and within that I concentrate on poetry,” she said. “So I try to write pretty often.”

She said she didn’t begin to write poetry until her freshman year at Hartwick.

“I had read some in high school, but I was never a big fan of poetry,” she said. “But then, when I was a freshman here, in the fall semester, I took creative writing with Professor (Eva) Davidson, and she was great. It kind of opened my eyes to how awesome poetry is.”

The competition, which was judged by English Professors Julia Suarez Hayes and Thomas Travisano, attracted more than 100 student poems.

Otto Sonder, late professor emeritus of sociology, endowed the prize in 1978 for the best poem written by a student at Hartwick to be awarded annually by the college under the auspices of the Academy of American Poets in New York City. The college is a permanent member of AAP, which was founded in 1934 and is the largest organization in the country dedicated to advancing poetry.

The prize is named for Sonder’s mother, who died in 1978.

Greco’s name will be published in the college’s literary magazine, Word of Mouth. The college also will recognize Greco at its honors convocation May 8

***

Girl

Home from campus, I head to the shower to scrub

the day out of my hair. In Cuzco, this frizz was just light enough

to ensure that I stood out in the streets, an orange

hanging from banana-tree branches. Gringa, gringa! White girl.

Blonde girl. Eyes-that-are-not-brown girl.

From-los estados-but-still-speaks-Spanish

girl. 20-years-old-but-no-tiene-hijas girl. But

in the immediate world outside this tub, I’m

went-to-Peru-and-won’t-shut-up girl.

Thinks-she’s-a-saint-’cause-she-taught-some-kids

girl. So why don’t you just go back there,

Girl? My shower curtain is a map of the world-

a puzzle of colored land-chunks that I visit

as I lather. With soapy hands I can crinkle the oceans,

turn continents to neighbors. Orange next to yellow;

blue right there with green. When South America

meets our East Coast, I’ll dry my hair and walk on over.

But I’ll have to sew the soapy slickness because as soon as I let go,

the crinkly plastic hangs, heavy with the weight

of continents and water, and the countries fall back into place.

And I don’t want to be

drowned-in-the-oceans’-distance

girl.