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Music graduate student wins first prize of 2011 DeClercq poetry contest


Margo Lockwood, Christopher Morgan, center, and Thomas Lyons took the top prizes in this year’s DeClercq poetry contest.

  • March 18, 2011

“Thanksgiving,” a poem by Cal State East Bay graduate student Margo Lockwood, has been selected for first prize in the 2011 Helen “Jackie” DeClercq Poetry Contest. The El Cerrito resident, who is working toward a degree in choral conducting, will receive $250 for her poem.

“Haiku: Contemplative Birds in Pocket Fables,” by Christopher Morgan, took second place, and “Stuck in Place,” by Thomas Lyons -- who goes by T.J. -- was third. Both of the latter authors are senior English majors in the creative writing option. “Sun Child,” by Eva Aguilera, and “When the City Was Young” by Christopher Stair, took honorable mentions in the contest that was open to all CSUEB students. 

Awards will be presented Thursday, April 21 at the Distinguished Writers Series event featuring poet Forrest Hamer. The 7 p.m. program will be held in the Biella Room of the University Library on the university's Hayward Campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd. Lockwood, Morgan and Lyons have been invited to read their poems at the start of the program.

Lockwood has been writing poems for her friends and family since she was a child, but this is among the very few to be shared outside of an intimate group. She wrote the winning piece in 1999 while driving home on Interstate 5 from Thanksgiving weekend at her parent’s home in Los Angeles where they grow much of their own food.

“Like verbal photographs, poetry is a way of preserving and transmuting moments and feelings that might overwhelm me otherwise,” said Lockwood.

Morgan, a Livermore resident, has been writing for "a long time," but didn’t delve into poetry until about three years ago. He favors Haikus, but says the winning piece is more light hearted than is typical.

Lyons’ winning poem was inspired by both an uncle with Alzheimer’s disease and observations of intolerance toward those who are unfortunate or derelict. The Tracy resident also has been writing poetry for three years. His short-term goal is to teach English as a second language in another country. His longer-range plan is to earn a master's degree in fine arts, studying poetry. 

"This year's winners are characterized by a range and diversity of emotional content and styles – from whimsical to quite serious -- and from formal structures, like the haiku and the sestina, to lyrical free verse," said Susan Gubernat, associate professor of English and contest supervisor.

Judges were Kathy and John DeClercq, family members of the late, long-time CSUEB employee Jackie DeClercq, whose bequest has funded the awards; Mary D’Alleva, a lecturer in English and Human Development; Aline Soules, a university librarian, and Gubernat. D’Alleva, Soules and Gubernat are all published poets.

The winning poems will be published in “Occam’s Razor,” the English Department’s literary magazine, which is due out in late-spring.

While poems of any subject were eligible, the emphasis was on those celebrating aspects of family life.

CSUEB welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodation upon request to those attending the event. Please notify event sponsor in advance at (510) 885-3151 if accommodation is needed. Campus parking is $2 per hour at meters, or $10 per day, per vehicle – payable at kiosk machines that accept dollar bills and quarters. 

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