“Candy”: A Poem by Senior Jennifer Nguyen

Jennifer Nguyen is the winner of this year’s Student Poetry Contest

Each year, the English department awards a variety of student prizes for achievement in creative writing. This year, senior Jennifer Nguyen is the winner of the Student Poetry Contest for her piece “Candy.” The judges were Profs. Jane Shore, Mary-Sherman Willis, and David McAleavey.

Here’s what Jennifer writes about her prize-winning poem:

I wrote Candy while taking my first poetry workshop (as a senior) in Jane Shore’s class. [Poet] Patrick Donnelly guest lectured and presented The Illiterate, by William Meredith, as one of the first poems that had profoundly moved him. He then presented us with other poems which imitated The Illiterate, utilizing the skeleton of the poem as a vehicle of discourse. Patrick then challenged us to write our own version—Candy is mine. To me, it is a poem about desire and bad habits; it is about growing up while refusing to let go of that angry, child-like sense of entitlement—irrational, unreasonable and haughty. Ultimately, it celebrates the people who choose to love us anyway.

Here is a link for Meredith’s poem, and here is Jennifer’s work:

after William Meredith

Touched by your goodness, I am like
a tantrum in the candy aisle, where a dozen eyes
are begging the mother to surrender.
And you might think by this I mean I’m spoiled—
that I’m used to getting what I want. Truth is,
I have never felt so ashamed, and I only wish
my stomping feet would shake the ground
so you can know what it feels like to be moved.
Between hiccups and ugly, hot, banshee tears
I am choking on my orphaned fury—
What would you call that feeling when
you cannot hold your breath long enough to die?

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