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UVU English Student Wins National Poetry Award

3 April 2013 No Comment

April 3, 2013

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert

Written by: Heather Wrigley

In March, Utah Valley University student Ammon Medina was presented with one of two awards given annually by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies or NFSPS. The Florence Kahn Memorial Award, which Medina won, and the Edna Meudt Memorial Award are presented once a year to college or university students whose 10 original, unpublished poems rise above the competition.

“The NFSPS takes submissions from university and college students in every state and pick two winners, so for Ammon to be chosen is really quite prestigious,” said Rob Carney, an English literature professor at UVU and one of Ammon’s teachers.

A panel of three judges selected Medina’s manuscript from among 52 others. He is the third UVU student in six years to take one of the annual awards, which also includes a $500 purse. (Heather Hadley and Heather Duncan received the Edna Meudt Memorial Award in 2008 and 2011, respectively.) The junior from Orem is studying creative writing and plans to earn an MFA in the same field.

“Creative writing is so subjective. You’re constantly working on it and trying to get better,” Medina said. “It’s nice to know my work is publishable, and that I’ll be able to continue to create and get my work out into national journals.”

Medina spent nearly all of Valentine’s Day, the deadline, readying his manuscript for submission and completed it, with the help of his wife, at 9 p.m. Some poems were more than a year old, while others he had just begun working on a couple of weeks earlier. Several poems were free verse, but the collection also included a sonnet, a poem about Mount Timpanogos and another one about meeting his father for the first time at age 23.

“To put together a poetry manuscript that works as a whole requires more than having written a sufficient number of good individual poems — it requires the ability to conceive poems to work as a sequence or to discover a potential sequence in poems originally conceived separately,” said Eleanor Berry, chair of the NFSPS College/University Level Poetry Competition. “With three award winners in recent years, it would seem that the UVU English department is aware of the NFSPS college/university level poetry awards as an exceptional opportunity for accomplished undergraduate poets and has encouraged such students to enter — or that the students themselves have considerable initiative in submitting their work as well as care in shaping and polishing it.”

Medina credits part of his success to experiences and opportunities he’s had while studying English at UVU, including taking intermediate and advanced poetry classes, reading his work at open mic nights, editing for “Touchstones,” UVU’s creative writing journal, and participating in UVU’s English Club.

“We have a strong writing community here, where people are willing to help each other grow,” Medina said. “A lot of these poems have progressed with that community in the English department.”

In June, Medina will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., to read his manuscript at the 2013 NFSPS Convention and receive 75 chapbooks holding his collection of poems.

UVU English major Ammon Medina from Orem, Utah, was presented the national Florence Kahn Memorial Award for his 10 original unpublished poems.

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