The annual Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry is adding a new element to honor UW-Eau Claire’s Centennial celebration: the Centennial Poetry Competition. In honor of 100 years of education, the Centennial Poetry Competition allows all students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to express their memories and creativity with the theme “Reflections on Education.”
According to Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist Greg Kocken, the Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry has taken place at Eau Claire since 2013. However, this is the first year the celebration will include a competition.
“The Centennial event provides the perfect opportunity to expand the event and do something different for our communities,” Kocken said.
The event honors the acquisition of a collection of Robert Frost books and other materials about the poet, a gift to the university from Joan Christopherson Schmidt. While attending Dartmouth College in 1942, Ms. Schmidt’s late husband Frederick Schmidt had developed a lasting friendship with Frost. Since its inception, the celebration has included a theme-focused poetry reading. This year, Kocken is not only part of the team organizing the celebration, but also the competition and its theme “Reflections on Education.”
“The theme connects to the very foundation of our institution,” Kocken said. “When UWEC opened its doors in 1916, we were dedicated to prepare the next generation of teachers. Teacher education remains important to our institution today.”
Poetry submissions will be judged by Max Garland, former Wisconsin poet laureate and professor emeritus of English. The judging will be conducted anonymously, with the authors’ names removed from the entries. Garland said he plans to interpret the theme broadly, judging each poem on only two criteria: the quality of the poem and the connection to the theme of education.
Both the Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry and the Centennial Poetry Competition will allow everyone involved with the university to connect our university’s past and present: reflecting on 100 years of change although the commitment to quality higher education remains the same.
“Our goal is to transform an existing event into something special which brings our campus and other communities together to celebrate our institution’s 100 years of positively transforming lives and communities,” Kocken said.
Everyone is invited to submit original works of poetry for the Centennial Poetry Competition. Submissions are accepted via email to [email protected] with “Centennial Poetry Competition” in the subject line. They are also accepted via US mail to the UW-Eau Claire English Department, P.O. Box 4004, Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004. All submissions must the postmarked by Dec. 31, 2016.
Winners will be expected to read their poems at the 2017 Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry, which will take place at 4 p.m. on April 24 in the Dakota Ballroom.