Eakin wins in week three of "Project Poet"

Release Date: 10/3/2011

Over 100 people made their way to the Black Box Theatre for the third episode of "Project Poet," which took place on Tuesday, September 27. When the evening's competition was over, Dylan Eakin, a junior art major from Lamar, walked away the winner, having wowed the judges and the audience with his poems.

The two-part challenge for the third night of competition required the poets to:

  1. Write a poem based on anaphora, the rhetorical device of beginning each line with the same word - a list poem, in other words; and
  2. Explore religion by writing a poem reflecting on a single incident in the life of the founder of one of the world's great religions: Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, or Muhammad.

In his untitled poem written in response to the second challenge, Eakin wrote from the perspective of a ruler facing a perceived threat from a growing religious movement:

"Untitled"
Copyright 2011 by Dylan Eakin

There is a man amongst you in the streets.
He teaches peasants and slaves, lepers.
He preaches a religion, and he gathers followers.
The meek greatly outnumber us.
They claim he is our Savior.
Nothing is deadlier, or more threatening than unquestioning faith. Blind faith.
They say they are of peace, but for how long?
I admit, his teachings are harmless.
Yet the faith . . . Nothing is more dangerous than faith.
Who knows when the power will corrupt him? Power corrupts us all.
This dangerous, dangerous man.

I am a ruler. My country is my life.
My people will follow me.
He could destroy us. How could a revolution not be imminent?
What can I do? They love their Savior.
I have killed for my country before.
Who could blame me?
I stare in the face of revolution. They gather in the streets. I can't trust him to do the right thing by me. I won't let my leadership become something that this man simply allows. I will not risk it.

The world will understand.

While Eakin was named the winner of the night's competition, he was not given immunity for the next competition, as that would have automatically placed him in the finals. However, he did receive a prize for his efforts. Along with Eakin, the following poets remain in print: Jessica Bowen, Tanner Holman, Stephen Kennedy and David Pluebell.

The next challenge is Winter Formal, which will present the poets with their most complex challenges to date. Winter Formal will take place on Tuesday, October 11, when Ozarks alum Dr. Ben Myers will return to campus as a judge. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. at Washington University and is now an associate professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University. In addition to numerous articles and reviews in his field of Renaissance English literature, he has also published a book of poems entitled "Elegy for Trains."

Based on Bravo TV's program "Project Runway," the "Project Poet" competition presents contestants with a new challenge each week. Contestants read their entries before the panel of three faculty/staff judges, and the audience, who acts as the fourth judge. When all votes are tallied, one contestant wins immunity for the next week's challenge, while two or three others go "out of print." The contestants who make it through to each successive round are given more difficult challenges as the competition progresses. To learn more about the competition, visit http://students.ozarks.edu/studentlife/events/projectpoet/.