What about Saint Leo University's rich history impresses you – touches your heart or inspires you? Share your thoughts and feelings through poetry. Participate in Saint Leo University's  anniversary poetry contest.

American poet James Tate said, "Poetry is everywhere. It just needs editing."

If that's true, then a profusion of poetry can be found in Saint Leo University's 125-year history – and English instructor Gianna Russo, a poet herself, is looking for members of the university community who would like to do some "editing."

To help commemorate Saint Leo's quasquicentennial, the university is conducting a poetry contest, and all members of the Saint Leo community – students, faculty, staff and alumni – are invited to create and submit a poem that embodies the spirit of Saint Leo.

Sponsored by the Department of English, Fine Arts and Humanities, Sandhill Review, Lightning Key Review, and The Sandhill Writers Retreat, the contest welcomes a broad range of reflections, experiences and memories in all poetic forms.

"Of all the art forms, poetry is probably the one that we most often turn to for significant occasions, such as weddings, funerals, presidential inaugurals, etc.," says Russo. "Saint Leo's 125th anniversary certainly qualifies. This contest provides an opportunity to celebrate all that Saint Leo is in poetry."

An ideal opportunity for online and center students

What is your personal experience of Saint Leo? What thoughts and emotions does reflecting on the university's extensive history – including Saint Leo's core values, mission and dedication to balanced growth in mind, body and spirit – inspire in you?

Russo says you don't have to be a University Campus student to answer those types of questions, which makes the poetry contest a great way for students enrolled in online degree programs and at education centers to be part of the anniversary festivities.

"Some elements of Saint Leo's unique history should be reflected, but the poems should also achieve some level of literary artistry," says Russo.

Here are the official guidelines:

  • The poem should commemorate the 125th anniversary of Saint Leo and may reference some aspect of Saint Leo history – poets are encouraged to refer to the book Pioneer College and to the Saint Leo University Chronicles publication.
  • One poem per person is allowed, 300 words or less, in any form.
  • All poems should be submitted as Word document attachments via e-mail to sandhillreview@gmail.com. The attachment page must be without identification. In the body of the e-mail, include your full name, poem title, contact information, and affiliation with Saint Leo University.
  • Entries that do not follow the guidelines will be automatically disqualified.
  • The contest is open to all Saint Leo faculty, staff, students, and alumni at University Campus, at education centers, and via online and distance learning.
  • Poems will be judged anonymously based on handling of the theme, craftsmanship, and creativity.
  • Judges will include faculty members from English, Fine Arts, and Humanities, SLU Board of Trustees, and a representative from the President's Office. (Judges may not participate in the contest.)
  • The deadline for submissions is midnight, Sept. 1, 2014; winners will be announced Oct. 20, 2014.

First-, second-, and third-place winners, with possible honorable mentions, will recognized during the Founders Week celebration; winning poems will also be placed on plaques at a place of recognition at University Campus, such as the library, as well as on the 125th-anniversary web page, and will be included in the Sandhill Review and a Highlights in History e-mail and blog post.

First-time poets welcome

In addition to Pioneer College and the Saint Leo University Chronicles, poets may find the document, Vision 2017, which describes the university's dreams and aspirations to be a helpful resource.

If you've never written a poem before, Russo encourages you to give it a try.

"Sometimes the best art comes from outside the establishment – in this case, the field of trained poets," says Russo.

For more information, contact Gianna Russo, instructor of English and editor-in-chief of Sandhill Review, at (352) 588-8282 or gianna.russo@saintleo.edu.