Students Recognized in National Poetry Competition

“Deadlines are funny. Sometimes when you’re forced to have something on the page, it ends up being something that you needed to say for a long time,” recalls Christie Clause ’20.

In April, two Gordon students were recognized in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies College Undergraduate Poetry competition. Kara Applegate ’18 and Clause, two creative writing students at Gordon, received first and fifth place honorable mentions among submissions from students at schools like Stanford, Columbia, Oberlin and the University of Michigan.

Kara Applegate ’18 (left) and Christie Claus ’20 (right)

“A lot of my poems are inspired by questions of faith,” says Applegate, “and those questions come in a variety of forms. Some are sonnets, some are free verse.” Applegate discovered a love for poetry during her semester abroad at Gordon IN Orvieto. It’s where she grew under the mentorship of Jeanne Murray Walker, a professor in Seattle Pacific University’s MFA program, who came to Orvieto to teach poetry. “She really helped my style and the way I approach poetry,” Applegate reflects. “She helped me uncover what I want my poetry to do. Reading her poetry and learning from her heavily shaped my philosophy.”

For the undergraduate poetry competition, Clause submitted a collection of poems called “Things to Remember,” which highlights moments she wants to be able to recall later on in life. “Even though they’re all different in subject matter, they all come down to similar themes of time passing, healing, acceptance and renewal,” she says.

Their style may vary, but what both poets have in common is a deep appreciation for Professor of English Mark Stevick, an accomplished poet. “Without him, I wouldn’t have known about the contest,” Applegate says. “He cares so much about how each student should succeed, which isn’t always going to be in the same way. He’s very mindful about each student getting the opportunity to show off his or her work the best.”

Clause echoed her praise for Stevick and her fellow students. “I’ve been greatly inspired by some of the people I’ve met here” she says. “If I were to take every quality that I look for in a professor who is working closely with me on my writing, I would end up with Mark Stevick. He is an endless source of knowledge and encouragement, and he works with his students so closely and personally that you forget he is a professor to many students.”

Although she doesn’t have any immediate plans to jump into an MFA right after graduation in May, Applegate hopes to pursue an MFA in poetry down the road. And Clause, with two years until graduation, envisions that, “even though poetry may not be [her] number one source of income, it will always be [her] main source of happiness.”


By Christie Clause

Moons ago you broke orbit to reach me.
Point me to whom I owe everything –
the night drunk stars, forces beyond us
that humble us human; gravity, her
hands patient with the string of us
tied thin around our wrists, woven in
our veins, some wrinkled map that
seems to bring me back to you again.

We can only hope to feel for soul in the dark –
miles of highway overpass, the taste
of stale bread stuck firmly in our teeth.
Wash it down with water, remind me
to name the dust that formed us here
so we pray to it knees bent in the end.
Something was locked into place the
moment you breathed in. Kindly,
point me to whom I owe everything.

Clause submitted “Indebted” as a part of her poetry collection for the undergraduate poetry competition. The collection received fifth place honorable mention.


Article by Caleb Minns ’20, English language and literature