February 7, 2012KR BlogNewsletter

Victoria White and Truman Zhang Win Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

Victoria White and Truman Zhang, both sophomores at Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by The Kenyon Review. White’s poem “Elephant Grave” and Zhang’s poem “Dear Poet” were selected by KR Poetry Editor David Baker from nearly 650 submissions. In winning the prize, White and Zhang both receive a full scholarship to attend KR‘s 2012 Young Writers summer program. Their poems will also appear in the Fall 2012 issue of The Kenyon Review.

Nandita Karambelkar, a junior at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, was named a runner up for her poem “Rangoli.” Karambelkar will receive a partial scholarship to KR‘s 2012 Young Writers summer program and see her poem published in the Fall 2012 issue of KR.

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors. This year’s contest was the eighth 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.

Elephant Grave

–By Victoria White

After an elephant dies,
the herd may carry its bones for miles.
Did you know that? Hefting them over
the flatland ebb and flow, as

years ago we trekked
the backwoods of late November,
New England burnt out like candlewick.
White light parted maples then,
found me chasing your footsteps
as you led us home.
Last fall the hills blazed red—
I wonder if you tasted smoke, oceans away
as the first shells hit and
you couldn’t run.
Did you think of the leaves
we used to bring home and tape up,
the way they all withered in the end?
Even the best, the brightest
come to nothing, I learned,

because there wasn’t a body
even though you promised to come back.
I broke when I heard you were lying
alone in scrub grass,
no one to lift you up, knowing
you were precious.
Brother, I would have carried you
on my shoulders til the horizon bent for us
and our forest dawned along its edge.
Imagine, and the maples stoop to greet you,
saying welcome back,
welcome home.

Dear Poet

–By Truman Zhang

Your entry to The People’s Daily
is not accepted. Generally,
we like the simple language,
but struggle to picture a world where everyone
subjects to the powers
of the government by self-censoring. Try to

pick something we can relate to
next time. Know that we update daily
our website, featuring poems with powerful
imagery, such as The General,
which is likely to win the One
Book Award, the most respected prize in the English language.

This poem uses beautiful language
to tell the touching story of a general who died in the Civil War
          when trying to
protect Chairman Mao. The last line reads, “one
who only does the daily
chores is not loyal to the party; soldiers, live in the hearts of the general
public and devote yourselves to overthrowing the corrupt political

The poem you sent us last year was even less powerful.
Let me explain this in simple language:
we shouldn’t have considered either of them as a general
rule, because you didn’t send the $5 entry fee to
us. Five dollars each. Also, since we check daily
whether the entries contain even only one

word from the Harmony Database, we found that one
character would especially offend the official in power
because of his name. If you read our newspaper daily,
you should know that language
like “Hu decided not to
wear red” puts social harmony at risk in general.

Changing the subject is our recommended general
practice in such cases. There must be one
other form (look at my clever sestina!) that you’d like to
try. Ballads sell the best with their powerful
emotions; pastoral poetry’s serene language
evokes in readers the internal peace they want in their daily

lives. Focus on things that happen around you: new roads built daily in a
          once remote village,
language teachers who have never taken a day off in years. These
          powerful details,
unlike what you have in your poems, are work of general interest that
          we publish.