INA - RLC English and Literature Associate Professor Peggy Davis is a second-place finisher in the statewide Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry contest, a section of the 4th Annual Illinois Emerging Writers Competition organized by Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.
"I was very surprised and honored," Davis said. "It has been years since I actually entered a contest. I won a contest for undergraduates at SIU when I was there."
Davis has a master's degree in creative writing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She has been published in Eureka Literary Magazine and Poetry Northwest. She is a resident of Mt. Vernon and associate professor of English and Literature at RLC where she has taught for nearly 16 years.
While at SIUC, she started writing fiction, poetry and some playwriting. She entered works for publication in journals, but not many contests. It was just a matter of time.
"I saw the announcement and I had not submitted anything for a good long while. I had recently written two poems; one for my Godson and another for my Goddaughter. I decided I wanted to enter those and then made the decision to enter the third one and actually the third one - the one I had written a good while ago - was the one that won."
In addition to a $300 cash prize, Davis' winning poem is up for possible publication in a number of magazines. She wrote the winning entry, "Bearing Witness," years ago.
"It's about particular memories I have," she said of the selected poem. "What holds all those together is sort of a combination of disappointment and hope ... the oddity of both of those going on at the same time."
She wouldn't commit to a favorite poet, saying she has never read a poem she didn't at least like in some way.
"I can't think of anyone I've read - fiction writer, poet or playwright - who I haven't taken something from or learned something from. I may have liked certain poets more at one point in my life than at another or feel more connected or understand poems more at one time than another. But, I can't think of any I've read that I didn't respect."
She did offer the visiting artists series at RLC as a great event for students to expose themselves to successful poets and fiction writers.
Rather than directing students to particular poets, she encourages them to visit poetrydaily.com for an amazing variety of work.
"That website is drawing poetry from those journals. I believe you can access a year of poetry in the archives. It's for those who aren't really familiar with literary journals and just want to see what's out there."