Hartwick College Announces 2018 Anna Sonder Poetry Prize Winners

The Hartwick College Department of English is pleased to announce Catherine Lomoe-Thompson ’20 has won the 2017-18 Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets. Lomoe-Thompson took home the top prize for her poem “Fruit Queen.” Honorable Mention was awarded to Chelsea Jacobson ’18 for her poem “Mother Me.”

This year’s Anna Sonder Prize competition, the 39th, attracted more than 59 poems from 18 Hartwick students. Judging this year’s competition were Assistant Professor of English Dr. Bradley J. Fest and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jake Wolff.

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 comprises Hartwick College’s Anna Sonder Prize. The prize honors the memory of Sonder’s mother, who died in 1978.

Lomoe-Thompson thanked those who “motivated me to center my creativity and produce a higher level of work. This award is an incredible honor and I am so grateful for the recognition,” she said.

The College will recognize Lomoe-Thompson and Jacobson at the 2018 Honors Convocation ceremony on Wednesday, May 2. Their poems, which will be published in the College literary magazine, Word of Mouth, are as follows:

“Fruit Queen” by Catherine Lomoe-Thompson ’20

A meat-eater tells a butterfly goodbye,
While the girl with strawberry skin sits to reminisce.
A soft breeze teases her ankles
As she says to you slowly, “I am trying to make this work.”

Through a curtain of kelp
You see cakes and croissants,
Saints of a lost day
Sitting silently in an empty display window.

With lips looming and eyes adjusting,
The fruit queen picks your hand
Off of her alabaster thigh,
And places it gently in your own lonely lap.

Zooming into zilch,
You sit back and try to recall
That year of snow-cloud kisses
And your lost halo of pearly, pallid gloss.

I watched you on the rocks that day,
Eroded like a giant of some tormented geologic past.
I swore to myself that I would never
Nick the surface of sensuality, never put my love in a berry bitch’s hand.

“Mother Me” by Chelsea Jacobson ’18

The first thing my mom told me when I started bleeding was
Don’t have children, it will ruin your life.
She couldn’t keep the rim of her wine glass
from touching her teeth.

I have a nightmare where
my bones get caught around my child,
crushing their toothpick ribs before they even taste hospital antiseptic.
Or they’ll have to cut through my stomach
where the mortality rate is the size of one thousand babies. My baby bump would be

horrendous, I would see
a parasite using my blood as fuel,
growing and forcing
my body into the shape it needs,
giving me nothing in return but type three diabetes.

I think I’d rather be barren,
no chance of a teenager
risked with cancer, depression, personality disorders, or bad skin.
No way of suddenly building a crappy crib from Ikea in a closet because
he came just a little too soon. 

Then there’s my husband and his differing opinions
on discipline,
making them pay for their own car,
work for the rent,
erasing their childhood before I’m ready.

But I think she or he would be beautiful.
Dark messy curls,
blue serious eyes, with
freckles speckled like rain drops on sand
over cream-colored skin.

Would I see answers as each baby tooth fell,
purpose at every pencil mark on the door frame?
Watching life I sculpted
fly over the world?

For additional information on the award, contact Fest at 607-431-4921 or festb@hartwick.edu.

Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,200 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:     David Lubell
E-mail:        lubelld@hartwick.edu
Phone:        607-431-4031

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