Mary Ellen Dingley Wins GW Academy of American Poets College Prize

Senior Mary Ellen Dingley won this year’s AAP Prize.
This year’s Academy of American Poets College Prize at GW has been awarded to Mary Ellen Dingley. Founded in 1934, the Academy supports poets in all stages of their careers and works to foster an appreciation of contemporary poetry. The judges–Profs. Jane Shore, Mary-Sherman Willis, and David McAleavey–awarded Dingley the prize based on a set of poems, which they called “strong and interesting.” 
Here’s what Mary Ellen has to say about her poem “To Hold Failure in Your Hands,” which appears below:
I, like most seniors, have had a stressful (though exciting!) senior year. I was at a point in my semester where I felt very discouraged and unable to keep the myriad of small tasks together. I was thinking about this feeling, this particular feeling of failure – not the great failure of flunking out of school, or losing a war, or not getting important legislation passed, or destroying a small city, or whatever else people fail at. In general, as a graduating senior, I appear pretty successful, but I felt hounded by small failures: forgetting to return that phone call, procrastinating far too long on my paper, sleeping through meetings, etc. The image of a creepy, faceless puppy appeared in my head.  Puppies need a lot of attention, they follow you around and are constantly underfoot, like my apparent lack of “getting it together” that had struck me, tripping up my plans, nearly tangible. I liked the juxtaposition of a puppy, usually considered a ball of love and cuteness, and failure. It allowed me to write about what is usually a heavy topic in a more light-hearted manner. 
I used to have a cat that would sit on my head every time I tried to sleep. If failure was a pet, it would be act like that – even when you try to forget it all and go to bed, it sits on your face. We all have those days, or weeks, or months. Luckily, I do believe that one can move past them. Perhaps I will write a poem about that, and maybe use a sloth, because they get stuff done, although at a very slow pace. I don’t think sloths have ever sat on anyone’s head.

And here is her lovely poem:

To Hold Failure in Your Hands
It is round and warm and soft,
covered in thick, black hair
like a Labrador puppy.
It whimpers.
Maybe it showed up in the mail
or fell into your lap, suddenly,
after long hours and longer words
reconfigure and re-allocate,
your resources
are thin
and here it is, the quivering ball
of fur, strangely heavy,
sitting in your slippers
and tripping you in the hall.
It has no face.
Yet it is still
and no matter what you do
it will not stop.

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