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The Poetic Pursuits of English Professors

Two English faculty members become finalists in BYU Studies poetry contests.


Every year, BYU Studies holds an essay and poetry contest. Over the past two years, two faculty members from BYU’s English Department were announced as finalists in the poetry competition.

Ben de Hoyos Jr. (Technical Communication, Mythology and Archetypes), a part-time faculty member since 2004, was a finalist in 2022 with his poem “The Last Leaf.” De Hoyos entered the contest because he enjoys reading the poetry and articles published in BYU Studies. He says, “I thought it might be fun to join with like-minded people and be part of the ‘conversation.’” The first seven stanzas of “The Last Leaf” read:

Shadows strained eastward as the yielding sun,
In solemn salute, frosted Nebo’s peaks
In glowing hues of squash and melon and
The last leaf dropped. Like fine pink sugar spun

Darlene Young (Creative and Technical Writing), a part-time faculty member since 2015, was one of five 2023 finalists with her two poems, “Stiff-necked” and “What If I’d Not Been Raised to Know You?” Young entered the contest because of the outreach and audience her poetry receives as a result. She says, “In a culture that does not spend money on books (well, books of poetry, anyway), it is difficult for me to assess how I am doing in my work. A contest helps me gauge whether I am succeeding, particularly for the audience I care about.”

The beginning of her poem “Stiff-necked” reads:

Caught in the drainpipe
of this tin-can quick-charge one-use world,
I’ve had enough.
Blast me, Lord; tear the roof right off.
Crack me open
like a bookspine puckered new; splay me.
Dog-ear me.

The first three lines of “What If I’d Not Been Raised to Know You?” read:

I think I would have noticed. You call to me in pluckings
of strings in the dark, in salty seaweed and woodsmoke
and crickets and even the traffic. I would hear, I think.

Both faculty members’ poems were featured in volume 62 of BYU Studies Quarterly. Young plans to enter future BYU Studies poetry contests to continue reaching the audience she wants to engage with her poetry. De Hoyos and his wife will serve a mission in West Africa for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints starting this summer, but he hopes to continue writing poetry whenever possible.

Submissions for the 2024 contests open on October 1 and close on January 31, 2025. Enter to win up to $1,500!