By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
April has many interesting holidays celebrated – April Fool’s Day, Humor Month and Mathematics Awareness Month. But there’s one holiday in April that’s more cultured than the rest, National Poetry Month.
The English department at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School is celebrating the month by sponsoring its annual poetry contest.
Participants can enter up to three poems to either the Scholarship category (if they’re a high school junior or senior) or the Open category (ages 14 and older). They have until the April 16 and 17 to have their entries in.
Bill McGlothing, lead English instructor at SCCC/ATS, says that this competition actually used to be done in conjunction with the library’s celebration of National Poetry Month, which ended several years ago.
“Both of us had judged that contest a number of times and enjoyed the experience and that was all community and no affiliation with the college,” he said. “But they stopped doing that and we saw an opportunity to fill that void with something that we felt was needed. It’s not like anything else offered in this town.
Janice Northerns, an English instructor at SCCC/ATS, added that this year is only the second year that the contest has included the two different categories.
Another thing that McGlothing and Northerns, are excited for is the judge they recruited for the contest, William Wenthe, who is a creative writing professor at Texas Tech University. He is an award-winning poet who has written three books.
“He’s very knowledgeable about poetry and is a great poet himself so he will be terrific and a great judge,” Northerns said.
However, McGlothing said there is more to it than just the contest and how it sprouted from the poetry coffee houses.
“The poetry coffee house started out as an opportunity for the college students to read their own poetry or a favorite poem, one they’re fond of,” he said. “That’s how we ran it for the first year or two and that’s how we continue to run it today.”
Northerns also said that this month is a great chance to focus attention on poetry, which she said doesn’t get much attention nowadays.
“A lot of people think they don’t like poetry but I think if they come to the coffeehouse they might find out different,” she said. “We’re going to have some really cool poetry read by the students...some of it’s funny, some of it’s serious so people should turn out and see what it’s all about.”
McGlothing added that there is a large difference between a person reading a poem to themselves and listening to a poem being read, especially if it’s being read by the author.
The winners will be announced at SCCC/ATS’ April 23 coffee house at 7 p.m. in the Shank Humanities building. After being announced, the winners will be reading their winning poems. McGlothing and Northerns highly encourage people to enter, saying they shouldn’t be nervous or scared about doing so.
“Why not?,” said McGlothing. “What other poetry contest is available in town of this status and prestige, particularly with the judging and tradition we’ve established here on campus?”
“Exactly, you can’t win if you don’t enter,” Northerns added. “I think people are sometimes nervous about entering a contest like this but why not take a risk? If people enjoy reading poetry, if they write it, they should take a shot at it.”
For those interested in entering the contest, the rules and entry form is available either at the Humanities building office or online at :