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The Olivet College Humanities Department is currently accepting entries for the 50th annual Abbie M. Copps Poetry Competition. The grand prize is $200 and publication in the 2015 “Garfield Lake Review,” the college’s annual journal of literary writing and artwork. Honorable mentions will also be published in the “Garfield Lake Review.” Deadline for entries is Friday, Oct. 31.

This year’s judge is Lew Klatt. He will read the winning poem and honorable mentions prior to a reading of his own work during the Abbie M. Copps Poetry Prize Reading Thursday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Dole Hall’s Klock Commons. This event is free and open to the public.

New poems from L. S. Klatt have appeared in “VOLT,” “Harvard Review,” “The Iowa Review,” “Colorado Review,” “Crazyhorse,” “Phoebe,” “American Letters & Commentary,” and “The Common.” His first volume, “Interloper,” won the Juniper Prize. “Cloud of Ink,” his second collection, was awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize. A third volume, “Sunshine Wound,” is due out in December from Free Verse Editions (Parlor Press). He teaches at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where he was recently named the city’s Poet Laureate for 2014-2016.

Only unpublished, unsigned poems of 100 lines or less are accepted for the competition. There is no limit to the number of entries per person, but there is a $5 per poem fee. Entries should be submitted online at https://garfieldlakereview.submittable.com/submit/15666.

For questions regarding the competition, contact Laura Barlond-Maas, Humanities Department chair and associate professor, at lmaas@olivetcollege.edu.

Abbie M. Copps biography and contest history

Abbie M. Copps began teaching at Olivet in 1920. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Elmira College in New York, and during summers she worked on a doctorate at Cornell, writing a thesis on the poetry of Thomas Hardy. At the time there were few women with doctorates on college faculties.

Copps taught at Olivet College during a time when famous writers frequented campus, including Ford Madox Ford, W.H. Auden, Katherine Anne Porter, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Sandburg, Robert Lowell and many others. She taught veterans from World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict. In the late ’60s, she began teaching half time and retired in 1968.

In 1963, the Olivet College English Department, under Chair Leo Hendrick, wished to honor Copps’ long years of service. They instituted an annual sonnet competition, later modified to a competition for a short poem. Some of the judges included Donald Hall, W.D. Snodgrass, Robert Bly, Denise Levertov and Gary Snyder.

Around 1970, Copps’ health declined and she died in the summer of 1973. The Copps competition, however, continues to thrive.

PHOTO: L.S. Klatt

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