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Posted by raherschbach on 28 Mar 2017

Some may be surprised to find out that Capitol Technology University hosts an annual poetry contest. After all, we’re a tech and engineering school. Students come here to learn how to code, build circuits, design apps and games, protect computer networks, and launch rockets. What does any of this have to do with poetry?

Yet the Puente Library is home to an impressive poetry collection that includes works by Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni, Keetje Kuipers and Mary Oliver. Through April 12, moreover, the library will be hosting the 16th Annual Sandy Pisano Poetry Contest, with prizes to be announced by the library.

In fact, the gap between the worlds of poetry and technology may not be as wide as people often think. There are notable examples of poets who are also engineers – among them Richard Blanco, who read at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2012.

Blanco won praise for his inaugural poem, "One Today," which offered a panoramic view of modern-day Americans as we live, work and interact. He has published three collections of poetry and has received numerous national awards – and he is also a civil engineer by profession.

Nor is Blanco the only example. In 2010, Sarah Wetzel won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry for her book Bathsheba Transatlantic, hailed by Garrett Hongo as “a necessary book for our time.” Wetzel, whose second book won an award from the A Room of Her Own (ARHO) foundation, holds an engineering degree from Georgia Tech.

Poets are also represented in computer-related fields. In 2014, The Atlantic interviewed TJ Jarrett, a young poet who has been garnering wide acclaim. In addition to authoring two books and serving as senior editor for Tupelo Quarterly, Jarrett is also a software developer.

Jarrett told The Atlantic that working in IT provides stability and pays the bills, and also has a puzzle-solving aspect that keeps her mind occupied.

She drew parallels between coding and writing poems. Both, she said, involve “parts that come together to perform a larger action.”

In a way, blending tech and poetry, far from being a peculiar idea, makes perfect sense – poets need to cover the rent, while engineers and technologists often crave an artistic outlet.

If that sounds like you, then the Sandy Pisano poetry contest might be just the impetus you need to take a break from the lab and experiment with words and imagery.  The contest is open to all students and there are no topic restrictions. Submissions may be a maximum of two pages (many of the most memorable poems in English are under a page), and each poem should have a title. One submission per student, please.  All poems entered in the contest must be original work.

If you’d like a chance to discuss poems and poetry writing ahead of the contest deadline, mark your calendars for March 29 – the library will be hosting a one-hour workshop. And it won’t just be about food for the mind – snacks will be provided!

For more information, contact the library (library@captechu.edu) or the communications department (raherschbach@captechu.edu) We look forward to reading your poems!

Photo of TJ Jarrett is from http://www.tjjarrett.com. Used by permission.

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