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April poetry contest buds into spring

Learning is the continual/Change in which one/becomes an alloy/of the Entirety of the world/Beautiful university, where?

This poem by sophomore Viengsamai Fetters became one of three grand-prize winners in last year's social media poetry contest. Fetters, a literature major, wrote her poem in the Notes app on her phone the night before the deadline.

The theme last year, determined by President Gregory Crawford and Director of Creative Writing Cathy Wagner, was Diversity.

"They were saying, 'Hey, we've got things to work on, but we can do that together,'" Wagner said.

Fetters and other participants posted their poems on Twitter and Instagram under the #LoveHonorPoem hashtag, to compete for the chance to win prizes.

Last year, senior JuJuan Johnson and graduate student Shamika Karikari were the other two grand-prize winners.

The three winners each received a Love & Honor medal, a handwritten note from President Crawford and a $40 gift certificate to the Miami University Bookstore. Honorable mentions received $18.09 in Miami University Bookstore credit.

Fetters spent the Miami University Bookstore certificate she won on a textbook she rented for her linguistics anthropology class, which she found serendipitous.

"Linguistics anthropology is about how language and culture interact with each other, which I think is very poetic," Fetters said.

The last line of Fetters' poem, "Beautiful university, where?" is in Arabic. While this was left out in the original announcement of the poetry winners, Wagner is working Fetters' last line back in.

Some poets were seasoned veterans, while others -- like mechanical engineering major Julie Matz -- entered a poem for class credit. Matz is a junior in the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute, which President Crawford had invited to participate in the poetry contest.

"My poem was a terrible play on math," Matz said. "All of my writing is very distinct and straightforward because what I know is calculus."

Matz won an honorable mention for her poem.

This year, the prizes and the number of winners will stay the same, but participants will instead write their poems based on the theme of Spring.

"It's all about opening the senses," Wagner said.

Wagner and the Miami University Creative Writing Cohort hope to see, feel and hear spring while reading poems under the #Miamioh_poem hashtag.

The contest deadline is April 20, and Wagner hopes writing poems related to spring will be a destressor in the midst of projects and exams. Wagner also wants this contest to inspire honest writing.

"I don't think that people should necessarily write pretty, happy poems," said Wagner. "I think it's important to write about whatever is going on in Miami in the spring. Writers can take it wherever they want."

Last year, the Diversity theme followed the same strain of honest writing. This is best exemplified in a line from Johnson's poem:

I heard there's more power in unity than division/So either y'all just don't see the vision/If we combine can you imagine the impact of that collision!