Grenfell Poetry Prizes for 2008

The University of Maine English Department is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Clarine Coffin Grenfell Poetry Prizes, judged by poet Annie Finch, director of the Stonecoast Brief Residency Master of Fine Arts at the University of Southern Maine.

Recipients of the prizes will be recognized at the English Department’s Honors & Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, April 30, at 3:30pm in the Arthur Hill Auditorium of Barrows Hall. For more information, contact the English Department at 207-581-3822.

First Prize (free verse)
Katie Lattari for “I Break Leaves in Brittle Mornings”

First Prize (traditional form)
Crystal McArthur for “Rebirth”

Second Prizes
Megan Soderberg for “Fluency”
Jessica Putnam for “Reality”

Third Prizes
Virginia Lee Sand for “An American Indian Woman”
Cassandra Lueneburg for “My First Kiss”

BIOS & PHOTOS (alphabetical order, click photos to enlarge)

First prize winner Katie Lattari I was born in Brooklyn, New York, then when I was 8 years old, my family and I moved to Maine and have lived here ever since. I’m a third year English major (creative writing concentration), and I hope to pursue writing in an MFA program after undergrad. I love baseball, guitars, and shoes, and currently live in Winterport, Maine.

Cassandra Lueneburg is a first year honor student at the University of Maine. She was born in New London, Connecticut in 1989 and since then has moved  around New England until finally coming to Maine. Since the third grade, writing has always been like breathing air. Instead of doing homework, she wrote stories about exotic zoo animals for pets and passed those in to her teacher for a grade instead. When the sixth grade rolled around, she was introduced to poetry and became completely enthralled by the fluidity and form of poems. Cassandra is now currently working on getting her Bachelor’s degree in  English with a concentration in Creative Writing, though she is still debating whether she wants to write fiction or poetry because she loves both fields equally. The poem which won the Grenfell award, “My First Kiss,” was actually an experimental poem she wrote in the late hours of the night when she was inspired to write something but had no idea what to write about. When she asked for ideas from a friend, he recommended to write a poem about “would you ever eat a polka dot banana?” Well this poem has nothing to do with a polka dot banana, but just the suggestion put her in the silly mind frame to write this poem.

First prize (traditional form) Crystal McArthur I never considered myself a writer, much less a poet, but have always found myself drawn to it regardless. I am an elementary education major with minors in Music Education and English. Poetry was something I did simply for my own benefit. It wasn’t until this year that I started sharing my poetry with others, but everyone received it so positively I decided to take a few classes to see where my writing would take me! I guess I found out.


Second prize winner Jessica PutnamI was born in Bangor Maine but raised in upstate New York. At the age of 15 I moved back to Maine and graduated from Bangor High School in 1999. I then attended Husson College for a semester before moving to Florida. While in Florida I attended Seminole Community College where I edited the Campus paper and eventually received my A.A. degree. Upon graduating I took some time off and hiked the east coast via the Florida and Appalachian trail systems. I am currently a single mother and full-time student at the University of Maine majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration. My goals for the future include publication of my work and teaching at the collegiate level.

Third prize winner Virginia Sands I am a French Major with a Native American Studies Minor. On my mother’s side, I have both French and Mi’kmaq Indian heritage in Canada, so that is why I am focused on French and Native American Studies here at the University of Maine. I heard French spoken at home in Waterville, Maine while growing up in a Franco American community. My mother spoke fluent French, so now I have gone back to try to re-acquire my French maternal language. I am currently working on a BA in French and possibly in Native American Studies. Beyond that I plan to pursue my PhD since I already have a Masters Degree in Education.

I love books, I love writing, and I love life-long learning. What else are we here for? Since last September, I have also begun writing American Indian-themed plays with much enthusiasm and joy. Through literature, I feel that my purpose is to impart my passion for embracing diversity on the planet; embracing diversity for all cultures, all ethnicities, all species of plants and animals, and doing all that we can to preserve diversity, which is what makes the earth sing.

It pleases me immeasurably to have won a Grenfell Poetry Prize.

Second prize winner Megan Soderberg A native of Northern Michigan, Megan first came to UMaine as a Marine Biology major, and then sort of took a left turn. She is now a fourth year English Creative Writing major, minoring in Women’s Studies and Film and Video. After graduating she hopes to attend film school (or at least that’s the plan for now), as well as continue writing and studying literature.

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