Brendan Walsh ’10 Wins Anna Sonder Prize in Poetry

April 19, 2010

The Hartwick College Department of English and Theatre Arts is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009-10 Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets. Brendan Walsh '10 (Avon, CT), an English major, took home the top prize. Heather Quarles '10 (Arcata, CA), also an English major, won the Honorable Mention.

Walsh's winning poem is titled "Through the Slums, on a Tuk-Tuk," and Quarles' runner-up is "Articles Not in Sunday's Paper."

This year's Anna Sonder Prize competition attracted more than 114 pages of poetry from 26 Hartwick poets--a record number of submissions. Judging the 2009-10 competition were Professor of English Robert Bensen, Assistant Professor of English Julia Suarez Hayes, and Professor of English Thomas Travisano.

"Every year I say that the competition was fierce and the judging difficult, but it has never been more true than this year," Bensen said. "That these two poets are singled out for recognition should encourage all in their efforts to pursue that most worthy ideal of writing well."

Otto Sonder, 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 became a permanent member of AAP, founded in 1934 and the largest organization in the country dedicated to advancing the art of poetry. The prize honors the memory of Sonder's mother, who died in 1978.

Further, according to Sonder, "The award also memorializes a gifted poet, my mother's sister and my aunt Florence B. Eoute. Self-taught, she used her writing to bring beauty and meaning into a life of factory work. She and my mother were orphaned at the turn of the century when their parents died of tuberculosis, which was rampant at the time. My aunt's uncle, falsifying her age, secured a job that she would hold for more than 50 years. Through her entire life, her poetry--never published but shared with many--was vital to her."

The names of the winners of the Anna Sonder Prize, as well as those who receive Honorable Mention, are printed in the newsletters of the AAP and the Hartwick Department of English and Theatre Arts. Each receives an award certificate and winners receive a $100 check from the Academy. Their poems will be published in the College's literary magazine Word of Mouth and in the annual newsletter of the Department of English and Theatre Arts. The College will recognize Walsh and Quarles at Honors Convocation in May and present them a volume of poetry for their personal library.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030