The Kenyon Review is pleased to announce that Audrey Kim, a sophomore at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, has won the Review’s 2017 Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers. Kim’s first-place poem, “What I Left Behind,” was selected by KR Editor at Large Natalie Shapero from a pool of 984 submissions from more than thirty states and 24 foreign countries. Entries came in from nations including Australia, Botswana, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom.
Kim’s poem is printed below.
The runners-up in the contest are Emily Perez, a junior at Signal Mountain High School in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, for her poem “Extraterrestre”; and Jenny Li, a junior at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California, for her poem “Chapter Seven Quiz: Coming of Age in Female Skin.”
All three poems will be published in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of the Kenyon Review. In addition, Kim will receive a full scholarship to the Young Writers Workshop this summer, while Perez and Li will receive partial scholarships.
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize, created in 2007 to recognize outstanding young poets, is open to high school sophomores and juniors. 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.
Every year, submissions for the prize are accepted electronically from November 1 through November 30.
What I Left Behind
The summer I found myself in a girl’s arms, our limbs sticky
with sweat and sugar, there was a knock on the door. Memory
had flown to greet me, although I didn’t ask her to,
just caught me whimpering with the taste
of my own spit. There was no one to hide from—
it was the year I passed my last exams, and drove
to the marigold fields of Pennsylvania. Before I left, my mother had wished me
a safe journey, pressed money and medicine
to my palms. I think of her now,
and robins forget to return to where they were once born,
and how we walk into the future barefoot,
and forget to turn on the lights. Before I left, my mother and I
shouted terrible things to one another, honest things.
She had said, you can’t be one of them, you aren’t, who
do you think you’re fooling?
And what a wonder it is
to be accountable for desire,
my girl’s thighs clumping under summer rain.
Outside, sunflowers turn away
from their own shadow.
The truth is
I wanted to run away from everything,
but then I ran into myself—sobbing, headfirst,
the world blinking dawn’s heavy eye and I,