The annual Emily Pestana-Mason Poetry Contest winners were recently named at East Georgia State College. Raleigh Twibell of Glennville, a student at the EGSC-Statesboro campus, was the first place winner and Jasmine Heggs, a student at EGSC-Swainsboro, was the second place winner. Third place went to James C. Wright, an EGSC-Statesboro student.
Twibell is a Business Economics major who enjoys writing and plans to start his own business after graduation. Heggs is a Nursing major who plans to earn her bachelor’s of science in nursing from EGSC and wants to be a nurse at a hospital. Wright, a Florida native, plans to transfer to Georgia Southern University and continue working on his double major in English and History. He plans to become an educator.
Twibell’s “The Fish” is both a lyric ode and concrete poem. “One of the distinguishing qualities of poetry is the line, and I love the way this poet utilizes both the symbols of our alphabet and the language of white space, angle brackets and the forward slash to underscore the importance of the line,” said contest judge Chris Mattingly. “The effect is one wrought with tension because the poem as it sits on the page creates a general image that is more fully detailed in short, lyrical lines. In other words, the poem catches the eye with its form but draws me more fully in with its content. And isn’t this the way of the natural world that is so carefully rendered in this poem? ‘The Fish’ is an invention that reminds me that the ordinary is both extraordinary and worthy of praise.”
Mattingly said of Heggs’s poem, “Untitled,” “[The poem] entangles gospel and blues traditions in attempt to reconcile the physical and the spiritual. The blunt lines writ in plain diction create their own hard-biting music while crisp images pepper the themes: shame, redemption, and the ultimate question: ‘Will I be ok?’”
Wright’s poem, “What Time Hath Wrought,” earned the following comments from Mattingly: “[It] is a solid poem written in high-diction quatrains by a tactician that evidences close reading and practice. This poem skips along with internal and half-rhymes while quick, vivid images snare: the result is a wonderful tension that is musical, visceral, and memorable.”
The Emily Pestana-Mason Poetry Contest began in 2003 when Professor Mark Dallas used royalties from a reading textbook to fund a contest in memory of Dr. Pestana-Mason. A dedicated and caring English professor, she was also an accomplished and award-winning poet who, before coming to East Georgia College, studied with Angela Ball at the University of Southern Mississippi. EGSC Foundation currently funds the contest which awards prizes of $100 (1st), $50 (2nd), $25 (3rd).
Judge Chris Mattingly holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from Spalding University. He teaches interdisciplinary courses on punk rock and gritty American literature at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. His book of poems, Scuffletown, is available for checkout from the East Georgia State College Library. From 2012-2014, Mattingly served as a Humanities faculty member at EGSC.