As Halloween approaches, more events are taking a turn for the spooky.
Utah State University’s Tooele campus is no exception as it is currently hosting its fourth annual “Poe-Esque” poetry contest.
“Edgar Allen Poe is our inspiration for the whole thing,” said Sherena Huntsman, director of the Writing Center at USU-Tooele.
There is no fee to enter and no required length or style for poems entered. The only requirements are that the poem is centered around Halloween or Edgar Allen Poe — an American poet in the late 1800s who was famous for his use of mystery and morbid elements. The poetry also cannot use profanity.
The poem styles and themes are open for interpretation, according to Huntsman. As long as there is a Halloween or Poe twist, entries can be silly, spooky or creepy.
“This is a fun way to introduce poetry,” Huntsman said. “We want to make poetry fun, the way it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be engaging. Poe-like poetry is the one genre that is absent of structural bounds, so it’s supposed to be accessible to everyone.”
In previous years, there have been around 55 total entries with the majority coming from teen writers, according to Huntsman.
Readers often have a tendency to shy away from the horrific tone of Poe’s poetry and the slightly psychotic method of writing, but through the contest, Huntsman hopes more people will find an appreciation for Poe’s work.
“We’re trying to take the Poe genre that’s usually intimidating to most audiences and make it more accessible,” she said.
Entries for the contest will be divided into four age categories: junior high level (seventh and eighth graders), high school level (ninth through 12th graders), university level (USU students) and community level (all other adults in the community). The entries, which should be received no later than midnight on Oct. 10, will be judged by English professors at USU’s Logan campus for interpretation of theme and unique voice. Prizes for each category include $25 Barnes and Noble gift cards for each of the four first place winners. Miscellaneous donations from USU-Tooele such as books from its library for runners up will be awarded.
“I thought these prizes were rather fitting for the theme,” said Huntsman.
The winners will also be asked to read their submissions at a poetry reading night on Oct. 25 at the USU-Tooele campus.
To enter, applicants are encouraged to either submit in person to the USU-Tooele Writing Center at 1021 W. Vine Street or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions need to include the author’s name, age group and the best method to contact them. Participants are limited to one entry.
Questions about the competition can be directed to Huntsman at 224-3373.