Project Poet opening challenge examines the truth behind memories

Release Date: 8/31/2012

Clarksville, Ark. --- It's almost September, and that means that Ozarks' annual poetry competition, "Project Poet," will soon be underway. 

The first competition in season seven will be held on Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre in the university's Walton Fine Arts Building.

Dr. Brian Hardman, Ozarks associate professor of English will emcee the competition. "For six years, we've had great poetry and great performances in Project Poet," he said. "This year, though, I'm expecting something magical. President Neice, one of Project Poet's greatest champions, has upped the prize money, and this will also be the last year of his presidency. For that reason, if no other, I know the Black Box theatre will be electric on Tuesday nights this fall!"

"Project Poet" began in 2006 as the brainchild of Ozarks' professor of English, Dr. David Strain and his former colleague, Dr. Kendrick Prewitt. The competition is loosely based on Bravo TV's program "Project Runway." Contestants are given a different challenge each week, and on the evening of competition, they 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 challenges become increasingly more difficult as the competition progresses, and the final five poets who remain "in print" receive a cash prize. The fifth-place winner will receive $100; fourth-place $150; third-place $250; second-place $500; and the overall winner receives $750, as well as the title of Poet Laureate of the Spadra Valley. University president Dr. Rick Niece and first-lady Sherée have once again generously donated the prize money for the competition.

The competition challenges students to draw on their creative writing skills and their wit, and is open to students from any program on campus. For their first challenge, contestants will write a poem that conveys the emotional truth about a childhood memory from the perspective of adulthood.

For more information about the competition, including details about each challenge and a list of the winning poets for each week, see http://students.ozarks.edu/studentlife/events/projectpoet/.