Professor's Poem Wins National Poetry Competition

'Arillus' by Mara Adamitz Scrupe chosen from over 13,000 entries for prestigious Poetry Society prize

April 6, 2016

"Arillus," a poem by Interdisciplinary Fine Arts Professor Mara Adamitz Scrupe, was named a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Competition presented by the Poetry Society in the U.K. Her winning work was one of only 10 chosen from more than 13,000 entries to receive the National Poetry Competition award, one of the world’s longest-running and most prestigious prizes for an individual poem.

Scrupe, who also serves as director of the University Common Curriculum, attended the awards ceremony on March 31 in London, where “Arillus” was printed in the annual winner’s anthology.

Founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry,” the Poetry Society has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organizations. With nearly 4,000 members worldwide, the Poetry Society offers innovative education and programming, as well as a calendar of performances, readings and competitions for poets of all ages.

Poets Sarah Howe, Esther Morgan and David Wheatley judged the 2015 competition, selecting the year’s finest work from a crop of anonymous submissions. Top winners, including Scrupe’s “Arillus,” will be published in The Poetry Review, the Poetry Society’s quarterly journal that features work by established and emerging poets, international writers and Nobel Prize winners.

“Arillus” is one of many poems that make up Scrupe’s forthcoming volume, The History of Everything, which she will be completing over the course of 2016 and during her upcoming sabbatical. In particular, this poem emerged from time Scrupe spent in Caracas, Venezuela, several years ago, where she was invited to create a public art intervention for the First International Open Air Biennial. Working in densely populated inner city neighborhoods, her project involved photographing people, trees and plants in public parks. Struck by the importance of green places for conferring dignity and grace on some of the city's poorest urban environments, the poem captures these qualities alongside the tempo of street life, the music embedded in Venezuelan culture and the sultry earthiness of this huge Latin American city.

Scrupe’s work has also recently been published in Narrative Magazine, a journal committed to “advancing literary arts in the digital age,” and is currently featured alongside work by Philip Roth, Ann Beattie and Joyce Carol Oates. Scrupe’s poems, “Plantation as Idyll” and “Reenactment (Sailor’s Creek, 1865),” explore people’s relationship to place, landscape and the intersection between the two; these will also be forthcoming in The History of Everything.

Scrupe’s poems have been shortlisted in 2015 for national and international literary awards, including the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize (Australia); the Canterbury Poetry Festival University of Kent Prize and Poet of the Year (U.K.); the Wedlock Prize in Poetry (U.K.); and the Tomaz Šalamun Chapbook Prize, University of Richmond. Her chapbook, “Sky Pilot,” was nominated for the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Awards and her poem “Monuments By Nature Require Brooding” is shortlisted for the 2016 Doolin Writers’ Weekend Poetry Competition, Clare, Ireland. The National Federation of State Poetry Societies Press (NFSPS) named her the winner of the 2014 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition for her first volume of poetry, BEAST, published by NFSPS Press in 2015.

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