Each April, the library at Ivy Tech Community College’s Fort Wayne Campus hosts Ink Cloud, a poetry competition. Students are invited to submit their original poems for judging by an employee panel.
This year’s first place winner is Danica Navarrete, a Liberal Arts student. Josalein Valenzuela, an Education student, won second place. Both are from Fort Wayne.
“The judging process is always interesting because each judge brings their own likes and dislikes to the table,” says David Winn, a library clerk who organizes Ink Cloud. “Creativity is always the biggest thing that stands out, whether it’s in the concept of the poem or how words are used to say something in a unique way.”
In Navarrete’s poem, she used concrete images of day-to-day life growing up to elevate the piece to something more than a poem about the hurricane, he says. Valenzuela pulled the imagery together to produce a tone between melancholy and nostalgia.
“There was a lot the we could read into it as judges with our own personal experiences, and that makes a poem powerful,” Winn says.
Ink Cloud is hosted in conjunction with National Poetry Month, which is April. National Poetry Month is the world’s largest literary celebration, founded by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.
Here are the winning poems:
by Danica Navarrete
There’s a special kind of terror
When your mind goes into spasms
Living over one thousand miles away
From everything and everyone you’ve ever known
Counting down the days until its possible destruction
Staying close to my social media
Watching my friends and relatives
Pack up their bags in a panic
Gather their most treasured belongings
Leashing up their pets
Shuttering up their windows with pure steel
Rearranging furniture in their homes
Attempting to save them
In case of a flood
Saying a prayer for their safety
Double checking their lists
Playing Tetris in their trunks
Strapping themselves into their cars
Ready for a lengthy journey
Hoping they have a home to return to.
Struggling to find fuel for their cars
Desperate for bottles of water
Residents and tourists all fleeing at once
Traffic is reduced to a tortoise’s crawl
Tensions rise as she progresses closer
Tuning in to weather stations
Listening to the meteorologists
Like I was the firmest believer in the
World’s largest church
They speak of the worst peril the Gulf has ever seen
My heart and my lungs are shrinking
My stomach is melting in the hottest lava
In the most devilish volcano
My limbs are trembling
I can’t find the power to move from my seat
My memories swoop before me
Riding my bike with my dad
Down to the little Cuban market
For chocolate milk and donuts
He’d drink Cafe Con Leche
Learning how to swim
In a hotel pool
My mother in the water with me
Teaching me to kick and use my arms
With dozens of palm trees above
Performing in musicals
When I was sixteen
Making lifelong friendships
And walking down that same auditorium
As I won second place in a beauty pageant
Reading my first college acceptance email
While I was sitting at work
A brick and mortar soap shop
Which I loved dearly
Tears welled up, and I never felt more proud
My entire life could be
Washed away, in a matter of days
I cannot help but imagine the sight
Of watching my old school and home
Meet their certain death
There’s a special kind of terror
When your father says he’s staying behind
With all of this in mind, I’m frozen.
I don’t know what his fate will be.
Irma will come, and we will wait and see.
by Josalein Valenzuela
I find myself wanting only:
To plant kisses in the hollows of your cheeks,
And to watch your blushes bloom.
But everything is muddied.
The earth—shallow where I’ve buried my pain,
Coming back up each time it rains.
Yearning for another time when you would:
Color me with crayons.
Splay the colors and lines and patterns,
From my collar bones
All the way down to the soles of my feet.