Natalie Landers Wins Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize

Natalie Landers, a junior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts from Tarrant, Alabama, took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by The Kenyon Review. Her poem “Ode to Words” was selected by KR Poetry Editor David Baker from over 500 submissions. In winning the prize, Landers receives a full scholarship to attend KR’s 2011 Young Writers summer program. Her poem will also appear in the Fall 2011 issue of The Kenyon Review.

Hayun Cho, a junior at North Shore Country Day School in Wilmette, Illinois, was named a runner up for her poem “Halmoni.”

Also named a runner up was Emily Nason, a senior at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities from Columbia, South Carolina, for her poem “Ripening.”

Both Cho and Nason will receive partial scholarships to KR’s 2011 Young Writers summer program and see their poems published in the Fall 2011 issue of KR.

Kathleen Cole, a junior at The Fine Arts Center of Greenville County from Mauldin, South Carolina, and Kaiyuh Cornberg, a junior at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Needham, Massachusetts received Honorable Mention for their poems, “We Come From a Town With Only Two Buildings” and “At Register 6.”

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors. This year’s contest was the seventh annual and attracted submissions from students across the country and abroad. The selection process involved a panel of students from Kenyon College as well as KR editors. The contest is named in honor of Patricia Grodd in recognition of her generous support of The Kenyon Review and its programs, as well as her passionate commitment to education and deep love for poetry.

Ode to Words

–By Natalie Landers

To the times you say something just because you like the way it lies on your tongue,
or how sometimes you mouth different languages
because the way it shapes your lips makes you feel like an artist
instead of someone on the down and out
who stays up all night reading the poetry you wish you could write
and throwing words at the wall in hopes that something will stick.

To the girl who sleeps on your front steps
and drinks rain out of the mouths of stone lions
and who tells herself stories sometimes
that you hear if the wind isn’t blowing
and you crack your windows at just the right time
and she doesn’t know you’re awake.

To the man at the grocery store on Mondays
who weighs cantaloupes in his palms
but wishes they were rambutan, mangosteen, pummelo,
anything but cantaloupe.

To the way you try to write about the man and his mangosteens
and just end up with lists and lists
of places you wish you were
and words you wish you could say.

To how you stop in the doorway to speak to the girl,
curled up like a sodden cat,
when you’re getting the Sunday paper,
and tell her the words that you can say,
bablatrice, epirot,
galimatias, glaistig, gilly-gaupus.

To how you can’t speak any language but your own,
which is somehow all the languages combined
in an amorous alchemy of old books
and the way they taste on your tongue
like a fruit, soft and sweet.