The English department will host its 6th annual Genesee Valley Peace Poetry Contest Awards Ceremony on May 12 at 7 p.m. in Alice Austin Theater.
This year, students from over 30 local elementary and middle schools will take part in the event by reading their poetry for family, friends, and others.
Roughly 500 poems on the theme of peace are submitted for the contest each year, from which 70 winning poems are selected. Contestants compete in three separate age categories: kindergarten through 2nd grade, 3rd grade through 5th grade, and 6th grade through 8th grade.
The contest is organized each year by Geneseo English professor Rob Doggett, a scholar of the poetry of W.B. Yeats.
“Young people need a stable, nurturing and peaceful environment to flourish,” says Doggett. “Unfortunately, a lot of young people aren’t given the chance to find that peaceful environment, because they live amid conflict and sometimes, as is the case with many young people in the US; they simply aren’t given the chance to think about peace – about the things that make them happy, content, loved.”
Doggett also emphasizes that the poetry contest is about “helping students to develop their own creative skills. Writing poetry is a difficult skill, and it’s something that some students naturally do well. So what’s great is when one of these students, someone who’s maybe become frustrated with school, suddenly finds that he or she has a real gift.”
The contest is important, Doggett adds, “because it teaches everyone involved that peace is something valuable – it’s something worth thinking about and writing about.”