Ekphrasis contest winners invited to read at 19th annual Poetry Bash

Poets looking for an audience are invited to attend and perform at the Oakland University Department of English’s annual Poetry Bash on Friday, April 14.

The event will take place 5-6:30 p.m. in the Oakland Room of the Oakland Center.

Students can bring poems, original or famous, and read them out loud in front of the audience. Anyone is welcome, and refreshments will be served.

The Poetry Bash was first created by Professor Robert Anderson in his first year teaching at OU, and this year is the event’s.

“Really, this was my small way to celebrate the humanities,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the event usually brings sizable crowds. In recollection, he also has distinct memories of poems about working night shifts at Kroger or about Michael Jordan.

“A few years after the bash started, [Professor] Gladys Cardiff came up with the idea to have the bash announce the winners of an ekphrastic poetry contest,” Anderson said.

The winners of this year’s ekphrasis poetry contest were announced on the Department of English’s website.

Athena Lebessis won first place in the undergraduate contest for her poems “Winged Coffin” and “Stars and Stripes”; Delaney Kamm won second place with her poem “After ‘Thalassa’”; and Samantha Miller won third place with her poem “this night, eternal.”

“[My] poem is about an installation piece that I saw at a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts one afternoon,” Kamm said. “The piece is quite large and multi-faceted, and my mind was immediately drawn to the arduous process that must have gone into creating it.”

Kamm is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in creative writing. She explained that the sculpture she based her poem on depicts a Greek goddess, Thalassa, rising out of the sea.

“I have been writing poetry for absolutely as far back as I can remember,” Kamm said. “I am very excited to graduate in April, but will most certainly miss the inspiration and camaraderie that I have cherished in writing workshops.”

Miller explained that her poem is based on Edward Hopper’s well-known painting, “Nighthawks.”

“The poem itself focuses on the four individuals in the bar — the barman and three patrons,” she said. “I wanted to try and give each of them a story of their own.”

Miller explained the title, “this night, eternal” is a reference to an interview in which Hopper admitted to forgetting to paint a door. She took this oversight and made it part of the title.

“I started writing poetry in my freshman year of high school, so late 2011, early 2012,” Miller said. “It wasn’t until coming to Oakland that I was able to get feedback on my poetry, though, so I’m very honored to have placed third in this competition.”

The winners of the Ekphrasis Poetry Contest have been invited to read their poems aloud at the Poetry Bash.

“I hope to continue writing for as long as my hands will hold a pencil,” Kamm said.