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The Olivet College Humanities Department is currently accepting entries for the 52nd annual Abbie M. Copps Poetry Competition. The grand prize is $200 and publication in the 2017 “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 Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Marcus Wicker, pictured right, will judge this year’s competition. The selected poets are invited to read their work at the Abbie M. Copps Poetry Prize Reading Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in Dole Hall’s Klock Commons. Wicker will read the winning poem and honorable mentions if the authors are unable to attend the event prior to a reading of his own work. This event is free and open to the public.

Wicker is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize and The Missouri Review’s Miller Audio Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and The Fine Arts Work Center. His previous collection, “Maybe the Saddest Thing,” a National Poetry Series winner, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award.  Wicker’s poems have appeared in “The NationPoetry,” “American Poetry Review,” “Oxford American,” and “Boston Review.” His second book, “Silencer,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017.

Only unpublished, unsigned poems of 100 lines or less are accepted for the competition.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.

For questions regarding the competition, contact Laura Barlond-Maas, associate professor of English, 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 Jack Ridl, 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 by Elizabeth Randolph.

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