Logo for the Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets

Malek Charchour ’16 Repeats as Anna Sonder Poetry Prize Winner

April 14, 2016

The Hartwick College Department of English and Theatre Arts is pleased to announce Malek Charchour ’16 has won the 2015-16 Anna Sonder Prize of the Academy of American Poets for a second consecutive time. Charchour took home the top prize for his poem, “Afrukhe.” Honorable mention was awarded to Tiffany Metty ’16 for her poem “On the Deathbed of the Wild Strawberry.”

This year’s Anna Sonder Prize competition, the 37th, attracted more than 65 poems from 16 Hartwick students. Judging this year’s competition were Professor of English Dr. Thomas J. Travisano and Assistant Professor of English Jacob (Jake) Wolff. Assistant Professor of English Julia Suarez Hayes served as 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 comprises Hartwick College’s Anna Sonder Prize. The prize honors the memory of Sonder’s mother, who died in 1978.

“I am very honored and touched to have won this prize, and as always, it is a great pleasure to share my work with others,” Charchour said.

The College will recognize Charchour and Metty at the 2016 Honors Convocation ceremony on May 4. Their poems, which will be published in the College literary magazine, Word of Mouth, can be viewed below:


Afrukhe” by Malek Charchour ’16 

Afrukhe, the bird leaves his home.

He does not recognize his feathers,

his wings,

for all his eyes can see

is sky and its light in the moon.


Afrukhe leaves the sacred tree

of olivewood

that glistens like a lion’s skin

in the darkness of this night.

He takes off, gliding to an unknown world he knows to be his,

to that land farther than the seas

Dimi sings about

when she sits under Afrukhe’s silent olive tree.


Water moves beneath his wings

in frozen delight, and the sea dictates

Earth’s thinning air.

All around,

it swims through his falling feathers.

This was the entity he should have been—

this sea, who graces the lands of unabiding coasts,

where the sun he prays to never remains in the sky,

for above this sea,

the Earth dances to her own music’s darkness.


The Earth, iklan, as the bird knows her

breathes from the mountains,

but never dies from their weight.

As for Afrukhe, he still searches for something,

something from a past life buried in iklan.

In this bleakness of the night,

he remembers when he was a man, four lives ago.

The olive tree imprisoned him,

and now the sea brings back to life

the human body he once possessed.

Those human bones, those human voices

screeching songs of a distant home,

and now this earthly banishment.

For that brief moment,

Afrukhe’s eye gleams of emptiness,

for his bird life, his human life, and now this sea

will forever sing the song that killed his voice.

“On the Deathbed of the Wild Strawberry” by Tiffany Metty ’16

Have you planted the strawberries yet?
Turned over the earth of my small bed
where they can grow there small and
sweet and

Do me a favor
let the sparrows pick at them.


For additional information on the award, contact Suarez Hayes at 607-431-4910 or suarezj@hartwick.edu.