Michaela Jenkins, a junior at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, took first place in this year’s Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers presented by The Kenyon Review. Jenkins’s poem “Indigo Sister” was selected by KR Poetry Editor David Baker from more than 1,000 submissions.
The runner-up is Dahlia Ahmed, a junior at Miami Arts Charter School in Miami, Florida, for her poem “Open in the Spring.”
Both poems will be published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Kenyon Review. Jenkins will receive a full scholarship to the Young Writers Workshop this summer and Ahmed will receive a partial scholarship.
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.
by Michaela Jenkins
“Can we make love to the rhythms of a ‘little early Miles’ when he may have spent the morning of the day he recorded the music slapping one of our sisters in the mouth?”
–Mad at Miles, Pearl Cleage
Mama gave me Mad at Miles when I was fourteen,
like angry was a book
every woman should have in her library.
I didn’t hear him play it until years later,
hadn’t known a trumpet
from a treaty: had only tasted jazz from hot
churchfuls of women who’d lost sons to thighs peeking
through slits in smoke filled
powder rooms that crooned someone’s half drunk
I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to listen
after what he’d done to
Cicely—with some sort of blue bottle and thumbs
used to pressing until they heard a noise—wasn’t
sure if I could unwind
after what he’d done after playing notes that he
might have wrote to her, midnight notes someone maybe
hummed to me too. I can’t
know if most women spend evenings with indigo
sealing up their lips in the bottom of their own
basement, police upstairs
chuckling with their cool blue knuckled boyfriends:
afternoon, I played his Kind of Blue over and
over, until I couldn’t hear
anything from the trumpets but her singing blues.