Christina Beasley BA ’12 Wins Poetry Award

Christina Beasley. Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis.

The first-place winner of this year’s Academy of American Poets’ University and College Poetry Prize is Christina Beasley ’12, an International Affairs major and Creative Writing minor. Christina will receive a $100 prize and a one-year membership to the Academy.

Honorable mention goes to senior Annie-Rose Strasser, an English and Creative Writing major.

Thanks to grants from the Jenny McKean Moore Fund for Writers and Columbian College in 1990, GW was able to join the influential Academy, founded in 1934 to support American poets and their work. In doing so, we became eligible to award an annual $100 prize–named in memory of English Prof. A.E. Claeyssens–for the best original poem or group of poems by a GW student.

When the college prizes were first offered in 1955, ten schools gave them out. Today some 180 colleges and universities participate. Many American poets won their first recognition with an Academy College Poetry Prize (Sylvia Plath, Louise Gluck, James Merrill, among them) … along with some of our own creative writing teachers. Every five years the Academy publishes and distributes an anthology of selected prize-winning poems.

Visit the Academy’s website to find out more about its fun e-newsletter and iPhone app (a poem a day!). And here, courtesy of Christina Beasley, is one of her prize-winning poems: 

Cruciform: Unbeginning

A god flower has naked space between
her petals. A sharp scaffolding like
the ribs of a hot window pane, and then,
welled eyes of a bromeliad.

Leaves grasp the ground with vein-pronged
tongues, lunge toward making, she is doused
with human bees who try to make her live forever.

No, she will not always be in season,
this elegy-stem, this prettiest nape of the bud.
The corolla. Her thorns twist, pulse, they hold
her anyway, there are holes in their palms for it.

Her hymn-hum a whorl of swears that only
flora would use. The fragile pain. Her broken
stem sweated with wick.

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