PCC poets win Hearst awards

By Laura Halverson

Pima Community College student Eduardo Michel took home a grand prize of $300 for his poem “How to Talk to Your Brother” in the 18th annual Hearst Poetry Contest.

“I had never won anything like this before this one,” Michel said. “I feel encouraged to continue.”

He admits to having mixed feelings about his poem.

“There is a certain feeling that I wanted to express and I don’t know that I got it quite the way I wanted.” Michel said. “But, on a different level, I think the poem works. I just need to trust what my instructor Meg Files says, ‘The poem knows.’”

Michel said he recommends that everyone take up poetry. “It has a unique gift for people who practice writing it; one will have to try it to find out what it is.”

Three PCC poets won a Hearst Prize of $50: Heather Rissi for “Questions and Answers,” Mario Martinez for “Old Fashioned” and Amanda Curtus for “Husband.”

Martinez said his poem was based on people he knows.

“I think of my mother and others when dealing with new technology and how they complain and wish everything was old fashioned,” Martinez said. “I was surprised I won because it wasn’t one of my strongest poems.”

Tucson physician Maryls Hearst Witte sponsors the contest to honor her late parents. She started the Frederica and John Hearst Prizes for Lyrical and Populist Poetry in 1992 after the death of her father.

A reception was held March 23 at the Arizona Health Sciences Center to announce winners from PCC and the University of Arizona.

UA student Julie Swarstad won a grand prize for her poem “Alchemy.” UA Hearst Prize winners were Jennifer Aronson for “Reflection,” Timothy Holdaway for “Silence Bristling Overhead,” Shuba Krishnaswamy for “Maximum to the Man-Nation” and  T.J. Hoffman Duffy for “Bitten by Angels.”

Thirty undergraduate poets participated in this year’s contest, 17 from PCC and 13 from UA.

Witte said her mother loved poetry and her father began writing poetry after his wife’s death. Starting the contest was the greatest honor she felt she could give to their memory.

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