Eileen Huang wins Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

David Lynn
February 6, 2017
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We’re pleased to announce that Eileen Huang, a junior at High Technology High School (Lincroft, NJ), took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by the Kenyon Review. Her poem titled “Movie Scene on a Highway Shoulder” was selected by KR Editor at Large Natalie Shapero from a pool of 772 submissions.

The first runner-up is Daniel Blokh, a sophomore at Alabama School of Fine Arts (Birmingham, AL) for his poem “Family Portrait with Lost Map,” and the second runner-up is Isabella Victoria a junior at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School (Pittsburgh, PA) for her poem “Clemente Curls.”

All three poems will be published in the Kenyon Review in the fall of 2017. Huang will receive a full scholarship to the Young Writers Workshop this summer, and Blokh and Victoria 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 eleventh 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.

Movie Scene on a Highway Shoulder

by Eileen Huang

Picture this: A scene from the movie Snowpiercer, where the main character
           needs to make a choice.
A film analysis: the camera pans left,
           right, left again,
growling first car to stuttering caboose. The audience
           contemplates with him, eyes
following the list of pros and cons—Front, back? Life, death?—
           Schrodinger’s cat on an express in lieu of a paradox. The director says,
The camera tells the story, see,
           our audience is with him. They will take every step he takes,
taste every word
           inside his head, feel every turn that twists
like a No. 2 pencil in his chest, and then
           the conclusion, the inevitable voila that whatever he does
fits in with, makes sense in a universe
           where there are only hills upon hills of snow,
no polar bears, no Sunday brunch, no climbing over highway dividers
           to the pet store to look at cats Because I
just want to look at the cats. Picture this: I
           am standing on the side of the road,
nakedly aware of looks from drivers.
           You are pulling me towards your house.
Let’s go meet my mom. But I haven’t washed my hair in a day.
           I have to go home. I have physics homework to do.
I’m wondering if the camera is telling the story,
           if it’s whipping its black, mechanical neck towards your face,
mine, my knotted hair,
           the glowing store sign in the back that wants you to
Vaccinate your dog today! I am wondering if the audience is with me,
           if they see my neck twist back,
forth, and back again—Please
           let’s just go look at the cats—if they see
the two roads in a yellow wood not diverging anymore, but collapsing together
           as if they were lovers at an airport terminal, if
they see your mother in the distant future, lying in a blank hospital bed,
           her insides scooped into a plastic bowl,
not moving. Not thinking about the story that she’s telling. My cat died a year ago
           and I thought about her yesterday. The crud glued
to the corners of her eyes, the white,
           heaving belly. She died a year ago and yesterday
I cried for her the first time. I think that’s the funny thing about it,
           that you don’t miss someone until you realize they won’t
come back waiting for you on the basement steps,
           until you’re not allowed to anymore.


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