By Vica Kazantseva
April is national poetry month which means Whatcom Community College is putting on its 10th annual Kumquat poetry challenge. Any students, past or present can participate along with faculty, staff and board members.
In 2007, Whatcom’s librarians got together and made a challenge for students and staff to get involved in writing and also do something to promote National Poetry Month. “It’s an outreach from the library to the students…It gets people that normally don’t write poems to write and it’s a celebration of national poetry month,” Said Ara Taylor, the manager of the reserve collection at Whatcom’s library.
The meaning behind the “Kumquat Challenge” is that it was one of the 10 words used in the first year they began this poetry challenge. The Kumquat poetry challenge consists of students and staff creating a poem that has to include 10 words that are decided upon in advance by the Library Marketing Committee composed of Sally Sheedy, Heather Williams and Ara Taylor. This year’s list of words are: leopard, mercy, ultramarine, hush, kestrel, sudden, nirvana, million, zenith, and seamstress.
Every year the best poems are awarded 1st, 2nd or 3rd place by a few judges. “Once we’ve received the poems the panel of judges choose the poems they think have the most merit,” “We’re not sure if we are going to do a judging this year on the poems, we have a big library transition going on right now so we’re still deciding,” said Taylor.
This year’s list of words are: leopard, mercy, ultramarine, hush, kestrel, sudden, nirvana, million, zenith, and seamstress.
The guidelines of this challenge are that all words must be included in the poem and prefixes/suffixes are allowed as long as they do not change the spelling/meaning of the root word. The poem must have a title and include a brief biography of the person, affiliation with whatcom, and entries should be submitted by Saturday, April 30 by noon to email@example.com. In the past, they’ve had up to 60 poems submitted and most of the poems are created by Whatcom students. An open mic publishing party will also be taking place in June and dates will be decided later.”
“A lot of people think poems are somber and have to have a lot of meaning behind them but they could actually be very fun,” said Taylor. Poems can range from serious to silly and don’t have to be a specific length.
“The library really strives to create a community and reach out to students. We’ve had people who have never written a poem before or simply believe they aren’t good writers actually end up having some of the best poems,” Said Taylor.