The Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets

Elizabeth Greco '14 Again Wins Anna Sonder Poetry Prize

April 10, 2014

The Hartwick College Department of English and Theatre Arts is pleased to announce the winner of the 2013-14 Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets: Elizabeth Greco '14. Greco took home the top prize for her sonnet, "Fire and Stars." This is the second year in a row in which Greco has won the highest Anna Sonder prize for her written work. Honorable mention in the competition was awarded to Jenna Rodrigues '14 for her poem "Tea House Tribute."

This year's Anna Sonder Prize competition attracted more than 100 poems from 21 Hartwick students. Judging this year's competition were Assistant Professor of English Julia Suarez Hayes and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Brent Delanoy. Professor of English Dr. Robert Bensen is the chair of the committee.

Otto Sonder, late professor emeritus of sociology, endowed a prize in 1978 for the best poem written by a student at Hartwick College, to be awarded annually by the College under the auspices of the Academy of American Poets in New York City. Hartwick College is a permanent member of AAP, which was founded in 1934 and is the largest organization in the country dedicated to advancing the art of poetry. To fulfill this mission, the Academy administers a wide variety of programs, including the college prize program, which includes Hartwick College's Anna Sonder Prize. The prize honors the memory of Sonder's mother, who died in 1978.

"I am very honored to have won," said Greco of her recent award. "A lot of talented poets submitted poems."

The College will recognize Greco and Rodrigues at the 2014 Honors Convocation. Their poems, which will be published in the College literary magazine, Word of Mouth, can be viewed below:

Fire and Stars by Elizabeth Greco '14

(a sonnet)

What if it's the sound of fire-the sound
that keeps us warm? and proximity is just
a manner of hearing across the dust
that settles to rest as we curl around
light and smoke, chins to knees, pant-legs browned
from kneeling in mud, from weaving in dust,
from bowing down to high altitude gusts
of wild mountain wind, which on this door pounds
ceaseless, into a night covered with stars?
As I quake with cold, how does she stay well?
What if mountain people can hear what's far-
the pop, whoosh, and crackle of dark-night stars?
Is there some Quechua secret to tell?
Teach me, please, to hear the stars' fire.

Tea House Tribute by Jenna Rodrigues '14

You between sips of oolong,
shoes off,
facedown in sheet music. 

Me a table away,
smudging ink,
burning my tongue on chai.  

Two kids that never met;
we should have.  

For additional information on the award, contact Bensen at 607-431-4902 or

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031