University of Arizona Student Poetry Contests - Fall Contest

**Check back September 2014 for the Hattie Lockett deadline.**

The Hattie Lockett Undergraduate Student Poetry Awards

The Hattie Lockett Awards are presented annually to students who, in the fall of their senior year, are judged to have demonstrated the greatest promise as poets. This award was established in 1978 by Clay Lockett in memory of his mother, Hattie Greene Lockett (1880-1962). An Arizona teacher, sheep rancher and writer, she was president of the Arizona League of American Pen Women and served as their poetry chairman. She also inaugurated Arizona Poetry Day. Learn more about Hattie Lockett here. For questions and more information about the Hattie Lockett contest, please contact Hannah Ensor at, or call (520) 626-0709.


Congratulations to our 2013 Hattie Lockett winners!

The Poetry Center is pleased to announce the 2013 Hattie Lockett winners: Paul Thomson, Katarina Lee, and Daniel Marks. Chosen by poet and UA MFA Alum, Peggy Shumaker, here is what Shumaker had to say about this year's submissions and her three picks:


There were many fine entries this year.  Thank you to all the young poets who submitted work.  I wish you the best as your writing continues.  I wish for all of you access to the full range of human emotions.  I wish for you nuances from every word in every language.  I want to read the poems that only you can write.


Paul Thomson

"Best Friend," "Advice to Me (Or To Anyone Else Who's a Train Wreck)," "There Are Days to Be Brave"

We all have public, private, and inner lives.  The finest poetry draws from all three, but offers us access to the deepest parts of ourselves.

Paul Thomson's poems invite the reader into his inner life.  Seamus Heaney speaks of "poetry as divination, as revelation of the self to the self, as restoration of the culture to itself."  In these poems, Paul Thomson lets us relive the wonder and confusion of high school years, as a young gay man tries to figure out how love works and considers what's possible--for him and for the rest of the world.  He writes, "I wanted to kiss you until the universe said, "Hey, let's stop for a second. Let's let/them be."  How much better off we'd all be if that kiss took place.

One of the poems allows a more mature speaker to converse with an earlier self.  Using the humor of vulnerability, the poet calls the poem, "Advice to Me (Or To Anyone Else Who's a Train Wreck)."  The advice explains how it's possible to live.  It also shows us how it's possible to make art.  When you get your own feelings into your own words, when your writing is intimately connected to the voice you feel inside you, then you're making poetry. 

Yeats says we need to turn "the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast" into "something intended" and complete.  That takes attention, craft, and technique.  It usually takes patience and practice.  It involves lots of reading, often out loud.  With skill and good energy, Paul Thomson reminds us, "There are days to be brave./And there are days to sit in your room and listen to sad music and cry." 

Thank you, Paul Thomson, for the brave days, for the tears, and for the poems.


Katarina Lee

As a poet compresses language to its essence, her images and her sounds heat up.  Katarina Lee's fine, spare lines select the evocative details that bring her poems alive.  The speaker in the poem "Compost" is choking, strangled by vines.  She says,             

                        If I stare at the ground long enough

                        I feel myself sinking.

                        Maybe my toe will hit a ruby

                        Hidden in the black gravel

                        That swallows me.

She allows the images and the gestures to evoke strong emotions.  This poet is wise enough to allow mystery its turn in the poem, and doesn't try to explain away what's beyond human knowing.

In "Human Nature," we have an ominous Daddy Bear who pours honey into and over the speaker "until I didn't know what sweet was."  The danger of this profligacy is clear, largely because of the poet's restraint. 

In "Impact" we see a young speaker trying to connect with an alcoholic mother.  The daughter is terrified of immolation, but the distant mother's incapable of comforting her:


            I dreamt I was a star

                        burning and screaming in the sky.


            You brushed your hair

                        and watched me fly through the black.

Thank you, Katarina Lee, for the precision and grace of your words.


Daniel Marks


"Nightmares," "Easy St.," "Jerome"

These are poems of harsh lives, of rough sex with so-called "safe" words, of "silly little scars" and unsterile needles. We meet Jerome, with honeycombed sneakers, who's "siphoning smoke from a Marlboro Red" while he deliberately tries to "mismatch" himself. This poet is learning to trust his images, to let them do the heavy work in his poems.  He packs in plenty of emotional power in very few words. Thank you, Daniel Marks, for these poems.


Guidelines for the Hattie Lockett Award

To be eligible, a student must be a UA senior enrolled in at least 12 hours of course work. Please check back in September 2014 for details and deadlines for the Fall 2014 Hattie Lockett Contest.

Past Winners:

2013: Paul Thomson, Katarina Lee, Daniel Marks
2012: Mika Jankowski, Ryan Mills, Morgan Shnier
2011: Christy Delehanty, Joe Loeffler, Cameron Louie
2010: Madison Bertenshaw, Katherine LaRue, Housten Owen Donham [read their work]
2009: Hallie Havican, Brett Larson, Julie Swarstad
2008: Julieann Paladin Dela Cruz, Andrew Shuta, Chelsea Hodson
2007: Kellie Davies, Jacob Levine, Lauren Harrison.
2006: Brandon Kreitler, Claire Shefchik, Marianne Go
2005: Marina Kaganova, James Garza, Emily Stuart

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