Federal Way student wins Highline College’s poetry contest

  • Friday, April 14, 2017 11:41am
  • News

Elizabeth Abramchuk. Contributed photo

“Imaginative” earned Federal Way resident Elizabeth Abramchuk first place in Highline College’s 2017 Student Poetry Contest. Abramchuk was one of 54 writers who submitted 101 poems during the contest, which is a prelude to Highline’s fifth annual celebration of National Poetry Month in April.

“I’ve only been writing poetry for a quarter. It’s still very new to me. I took Susan Rich’s creative writing class and instantly fell in love with poetry,” Abramchuk said the 18-year-old, who earned $125 for winning the contest. “I wanted to enter the contest to see where I stand, literature-wise. I wanted to get a sense of how readers felt about my poem. Did they like it? Hate it?”

Abramchuk is on track to graduate in June 2017, simultaneously earning her associate degree and high school diploma as a Running Start student. She plans on pursuing art at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle in the fall.

“I don’t know what art has in store for me but I would really like to do children’s book illustrations or become an animator,” she said.

“The judges admired ‘Imaginative’ for the authenticity of its images and the fact that every line offers readers a sensory pleasure,” said Susan Rich, one of the contest judges. “The surprise of cups as ‘swimming pools’ and old women as ‘potato nuns’ not only delighted us, but made it clear that this is a poet we are sure to hear more from.”

Rich teaches creative writing and film studies at Highline. She is the author of four books of poetry, including “Cloud Pharmacy” (White Pine Press, 2014).

Second place, with a prize of $100, went to Mickayla Olson of Burien for her poem “Calling.” She is working on her associate of arts transfer degree in nursing.

Third place and $75 went to first-year student Jordan McPherson of Auburn for “The Belly.”

The contest required students to submit poems that were no more than 20 lines and could fit onto an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper.

The winning poems will be displayed as broadsides during the months of April and May in the Highline Library Exhibits and Art Gallery.

Loosely defined as single sheets of paper printed on one side, broadsides were the most diverse form of brief, single-occasion publishing before the Civil War.

Although broadsides were first introduced in England, they became a prime means of communication in the United States, often posted in the town square. Later, Harlem Renaissance, Concrete and Beat writers claimed the broadside as a below-the-radar way to get their words out onto the streets.

The students’ poems will be on display alongside those of published poets Jeanine Hall Gailey and Terrance Hayes, both of whom will give readings during the month-long celebration.


by Elizabeth Abramchuk

I see things that are not there,

Cups are swimming pools,

Laundry bins are prisons,

Scissors are swords battling,

Beds are coffins for the living,

Umbrellas are bats,

Blueberries are mini pomegranates,

Ropes are mamas to thread,

Doors are bars of chocolate,

Socks are sleeping bags for feet,

Mushrooms are swamp flowers,

The world is just a marble,

The wind is God sneezing,

And old women are potato nuns.

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