Poetry Spreads Peace to the Fairfield University Community

Submitted by Lisa Calderone MFA '11 on February 10, 2011

Remember when the cast of kid characters in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” each described their definition of “happiness“? That’s the spirit behind Fairfield University’s annual Poetry for Peace contest, during which Bridgeport and Fairfield children, from K-8, are invited to articulate what “peace” means to them. Every year, Fairfield’s interdisciplinary panel of faculty and student (both graduate and undergraduate) judges are delightfully surprised at the definitions, visions, and experiences of “peace” through the children’s writings. And every year, poetry spreads peace across campus, warming the University and the greater community in the trenches of winter.

Part of Fairfield University’s Martin Luther King Jr. week-long celebration of events, the Poetry for Peace Celebration is co-sponsored by the:

The contest is co-coordinated by Dr. Nels Pearson, assistant professor of English and Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, assistant professor of Spanish.

This year, 1,100 aspiring poets submitted their work, with 70 authors invited on campus to read their winning poems. On the evening of January 18, 2011, family, teachers, Fairfield students, and other University community members gathered in the Kelley Center to hear the writers speak their own words. Each poet read from a piece of paper or the published book of “Poetry for Peace Contest Winners 2010-11″ that was distributed to the children and their school principals.

Photos Credit: Jean Santopatre

The 2010-11 contest grew by 400 entrants over the previous year, and is expected to become an even stronger community outreach initiative next year. For 2011-12, poems written in Spanish will be eligible in the Fairfield University “Poetry for Peace” contest as well as English. Until then, all were encouraged by Dr. Pearson to “keep on writing.” Hopefully, the children and all who attended also will be inspired to continue reflecting on peace in their own lives and the greater world.

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