The winners of the 2013 Ragan Poetry Contest were selected a few weeks ago by visiting judge and acclaimed New Mexico poet Carmen Giménez Smith. First place and $250 were awarded to senior Kaitlyn Hlebechuk for her poem “Wanting to Level the Scales.” Senior Brittany Banks took second prize for “Hail Holy Ovary,” and senior Josh Flynn claimed third prize for “This Painting is about Falling in Love.”
Members of the Class of 2013 have won first prize in the Ragan Contest every year they have been at SVC; it is fitting that, in their final year of eligibility, members of the Class of 2013 took every prize.
Hlebechuk, who is double-majoring in English and Economics, was honored by the prize. “Honestly, I’m really grateful that Carmen chose my poem for the Ragan,” said Hlebechuk. “[Smith’s] faith in my writing gives me more confidence to continue my literary pursuits in the future.”
The Ragan Award will be officially presented at the Spring Honors Convocation on Wednesday, April 24.
“’Wanting to Level the Scales’ comes from a collection that is very personal and very important to me,” said Hlebechuk. “It is quite touching to feel as though people, even accomplished ones, can identify with my life and the poetry it produces.”
Hlebechuk’s winning poem is printed below.
“Wanting to Level the Scales”
I remember in fifteen-second cartoon skits. Oranges rolling down Burbank stairwells, blue and significant. Sipping coffee creamer on a three-day train with my infant brother touching snow balloons travelers’ hats, no money less food, leaving a man a life I hardly knew. Plastic wrapping the new Pennsylvania fireplace watching mice pile up squish their faces like children against glass I stood on the faded rocking chair to ask my mother if we could keep the babies. Smelling beer blood vomit when my father found me hugged me, please let go but I couldn’t say it, sending him to a doctor when the concrete split his head, to prison where I played Power Rangers with my brother as we waited in the car for my parents’ visit to end. Watching my teenage sister look past me change break my mother’s nose watch me with the bass shifting my innards the station wagon blinking down West Jeannette streets the townhouse filled with strangers and two small children trying to sleep. Four a.m. pounding at the door strung out soul looking for our dealer neighbors, kids seizing from withdrawals, phone call telling me I can’t come home streets blocked for a rogue side-show gunman. Hearing my mother, the only constant, slowly breaking saying she was tired as she pulled to the side of the road slurred her words fell into the laundry baskets by the cellar door tongue swelling lights flashing and me wanting to level the scales wrap her in a blanket and strip her of her setting as she did for me on a train from California.