Shimer College

April 03, 2014

Poetry Contest 2014 Winners

Barbara Stone, Dean of the College, congratulates the winners and encourages all Shimer students  to keep reading and writing poetry.


First Place: Trevor Griffith, “City Life is a Grievous Thing”

Honorable Mention: August Lysy, “The Aril of Memory”


In her message to the community congratulating the winners, Barbara Stone, Dean of the College, thanks the judges, Professors Eileen Buchanan, Aron Dunlap, and Harold Stone, and the sponsor of the contest, Shimer alum and poet Peter Cooley. Barbara said, “I especially want to thank all the students who submitted poems to the contest. Eighteen students submitted poems. I’m quite sure that this is a record: it is about 20% of the Shimer student body!”

Barbara added, “I ask everyone to continue reading and writing poetry, and maybe even memorizing and reciting it. It is one of the great joys of life. I look forward to your entries in next year’s contest!”


Congratulations to this year’s winners.


City Life is a Grievous Thing

City life is a grievous thing. Men were not meant to live

Well-connected or with ease of haste.

We are not a swarming species

Or a swelling being

Interwoven without moments

Of the sweet reprieve of solitude,

Nor are we well attuned

To the heaping pile of crawling



We must be alone and if

We must be alone it is better

To be truly alone.

It is better by far to be lonely

Than moved about and obliterated

By so much communion.


                                      Trevor Griffith, First Prize Winner, 2014


The Aril of Memory

Our pomegranate withers in the icebox,

Blanching red with deep shallow sunken cheeks

Puckering up the last of its juices.

Dear friend: like a stranger, I took and ate,

And see: memory’s wisdom is too great.


An excised heart bearing a withered crown,

The red pomegranate tucks its thick, pocked hide.

My smooth incision, with calm precision—

The flat blade of the cleaver’s edge falling

Down like an axe on the red pomegranate.


Surrounded by a bitter, white membrane,

The aril: a filmy, gloss enclosure,

A viscous red juice around a hard pit,

Suspended, inert, like memory

Of us.


A red pomegranate we two did split,

Dazzling in a blind fluorescent glow.

The red on our fingers and teeth and smiles—

The juices swirling around the open drain—

Crimson streaks flow down a porcelain sink.


Blunt fingers grip the red pomegranate skin—

Claw and burrow, clench and bulge, gouge and burst—

Tear asunder—devour—aril nest revealed—

Remembering the midnight communion

Of friends.


                                                August Lysy, Honorable Mention, 2014