They Are Poets and You Didn’t Even Know It! 

Written by: Blythe Freshwater


In the month of April, the Eagle hosted a poetry contest for students and faculty, with hopes of beginning an annual contest. Although the contest was rather spur-of-the-moment, the Eagle still had a great turnout, with nine students entering the total of fourteen poems, and four faculty members submitting the total of five poems. The poetry was judged by OKWU’s own English department faculty: Dr. Gray, Dr. Korver, and Dr. Riggs. Winners received a treat from Doc’s and worldwide notoriety on the internet. The results are below!


Taking the unanimous first place prize in the student category is Christina Williams and her poem, “The Yellow Sink.”

Christina is a 40 year old senior AGS student studying Business Administration. Originally from Tulsa, she has lived in Bartlesville for 14 years. She says, “This poem is very special to me; I wrote it in 2012 during my daddy’s 13-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The words are all true, and came to me while I was helping my parents with chores in the home I grew up in. Looking out the kitchen window at the yard that day, I was praying for peace and assistance with the helplessness of watching my hero slip away from me. I was wrapped in God’s love as all the beautiful memories came flooding back. My daddy has since passed away, and I miss him every day. Thank you for allowing me to share what an amazing life we were blessed to enjoy together.”


Dr. Riggs, one of the judges, writes, “’The Yellow Sink’ engages the senses through interesting imagery and specific language. The way the poem comes full circle at the end, returning to the yellow sink, is very effective.” Well done, Christina!


The second place winner is 20 year old Dalton Linick, with his poem, “The Girl with Traveling Shoes.”


Dalton is a junior Elementary Education major from Olathe, Kansas. He says, “In a lot of my education classes, we have been reading a lot of children’s books and learning about the importance of reading and integrating reading throughout the other subjects. I’ve wanted to write a book since the beginning of last semester, but I really decided to do it this semester when Professor Gerth showed me some Graeme Base books. I loved how [Base] wrote the story in couplet form, so that’s what I decided to do. I just thought of the story one night while I was trying to sleep.”  He says that “The Girl with Traveling Shoes” is the first poem that he has ever written, and he wrote it in March of this year.


Seizing the bronze for third place is senior Anthony Hale, with his poem, “The Search.”

Anthony is a 25 year old Criminal Justice major from Seligman, Missouri. He says, “I got the inspiration for this poem in the first year [my wife] Larissa and I were dating. She was home in Tulsa and I was back home in Missouri.  I wasn’t able to see her for a good three weeks and I was really wanting to be with her and even talk to her. I remember going outside in middle of night, looking at the stars, and just wondering if she was looking at the same stars I was. I remember we used to look at clouds and we would always tell each other what we saw in them. I remember seeing a heart that day, and I kind of told myself that that’s the size of my heart whenever I’m with her. When I first met her, we were stargazing, and that was a night that I had seen the most shooting stars. I thought that she must be very special for my life since that happened. The winding roads part was because we’ve taken lots of long trips with each other and to this day we still love taking road trips. But whenever I take a road trip by myself, I always think of her being there in the passenger seat.”


Anthony also says that he has been writing poetry since early high school. He sadly lost most of his poems, but he is starting to get back into writing them. He says, “I like to go back and look at some of my more recent poems, since most of them are about Larissa. I like to think about when I wrote those poems for her and how they are still meaningful to me today. Since she’s the love of my life, she’s my inspiration to write now.”


Runners-up in the student category were Blythe Freshwater and her poem, “Soldiers in a Silent War,” and Callie Brezillac with her poem, “Beauty.”


In the faculty category, only four faculty members submitted poems. In a moment of blazing glory, Dr. Jerome Van Kuiken seized both first place for his poem “Cautionary Myths” and lapped the competition for third place as well for his poem “Elrond’s Lament.”

JVK says, “‘Cautionary Myths’ draws from three sources: as a young child, I loved reading Greek mythology. As a preteen, I lived through the Challenger and Chernobyl disasters (both happened in the same year: 1986). As an adult, I reflected on what wisdom the ancient myths might offer as we pursue more and more powerful technologies. I’m no Luddite, but I do think that we need to beware the naïve assumption that technology is an unqualified good.” He continues and says that “Elrond’s Lament,” however, “came out of a fit of silliness! I’m a Tolkien fan and a bit of a tease, so I made up a Middle-earth-themed spoof on the folk song ‘Clementine’ to harass fellow Lord of the Rings-loving family and friends.” JVK has been writing poetry since he was in middle school, and though he doesn’t usually consciously try to imitate a particular poet, he admires Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the Brownings, and he has a love-hate relationships with William Blake and T. S. Eliot.


Dr. Riggs says, “In ‘Cautionary Myths,’ the interweaving of myth and science is fascinating. It is a tightly written poem with stunning word choice, imagery, and alliteration.”


Taking second place for her poem, “The Past,” adjunct professor Dr. Jennifer Geyer is from Ohio.


Dr. Geyer says, “I was really just thinking about God and the things He has forgiven me for in my life.  The sins of our past have a tendency to come up again time after time, but I think that is just a tool of our enemy to try to harm our relationship with God.  So the poem was basically an internal working out of those thoughts.” Dr. Geyer dabbles “a bit with putting my thoughts into poetry, but this was my first official poem that I thought might be okay to share with others.” She says that she likes Emily Dickinson’s style, but she doesn’t particularly imitate any poet.

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Want to see your poetry submissions on the Eagle? Even though the contest is over, submissions are always welcome. Send any and all poetry or creative submissions to, and keep your eyes peeled for next year’s competition.