Caitlin Chan, a sophomore at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, New Jersey, took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers, presented by the Kenyon Review. Chan’s poem “Tlingit Farewell; Glacier Bay, 1966” was selected by KR Associate Editor Natalie Shapero from nearly 900 submissions.
The runners-up are Gavin Murtha, a sophomore at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey, for his poem “I Spent a Lot of Time in There,” and Emily Zhang, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, for her poem “Story for the Salt.”
All three poems will be published in the Kenyon Review in the fall of 2015. Chan will receive a full scholarship to the Young Writers Workshop this summer, and Murtha and Zhang will receive partial scholarships.
Congratulations to these talented poets!
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors. This year’s contest was the tenth annual and attracted submissions from students across the country and abroad. The selection process involved a panel of students from Kenyon College as well as KR editors. The contest is named in honor of Patricia Grodd in recognition of her generous support of The Kenyon Review and its programs, as well as her passionate commitment to education and deep love for poetry.
Tlingit Farewell; Glacier Bay, 1966
by Caitlin Chan
Iceberg floats, bobbing like our own oversized crystalline buoy.
Red-knots pump their wings, searching
for a place to call home
before this wall of white descends upon us once again.
I stand by the waters and shiver in my deerskin coat
under the harsh tongue of the North lands, staring at the
blurred horizon, whispering gunalcheesh to the father for these
I hear nothing
but the pale strokes of the waves along shadow
stained shore. The woods are silent,
an unwelcome epiphany.
Rocks curled under my bare toes feel
soft after treading over dirt brushed ice for
so long. The silt in the water begins to tremble, like wolf pelt
a tired cobalt sky.
Now, behind me, I hear the glacier roar and gnash, this beast
who has wrenched us from our lands
like the caribou leaf we pluck from the fickle earth, never
satisfied. Kill-dee kill-dee kill-dee kill-deeee.
Killdeer mewls his own name as if he does not want to slip away
into the fabric of the unforgiving mother. Who would want to be
forgotten in this place of so many lost?
His plea echoes across the bay, reminding ancient white faces
of the life
they hold in their hands
to keep or to swallow.
Although we have been pushed from our lands
the feeling of home never melts.
In my language
there is no word for goodbye.