The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Poetry contest winners find comfort in writing

Cece Onyema Staff Reporter Mar 11, 2021

Highline’s poetry contest winners say writing is much more than a hobby for them.

Winners of the annual contest were announced recently. The first-place winner was Patheresa Wells with Decasia, second place went to Arrionna Townsel for My Truth, and third place was Kiera Golden with Journal Pages. Seven honorable mentions also were awarded. 

First-place winner Wells said the contest marked a return to poetry for her.

“I have been writing poetry since I was a teenager; I stopped after I graduated in 1999 and it wasn’t until the last few years that I took up writing again,” Wells said. “I believe the passions we display in childhood will always find their way back to us.”

Wells said she intends to continue her writing path in school.

“This is my first full semester at Highline,” Wells said. “I plan to transfer to get a bachelor’s in creative writing then continue on to get my MFA.

“Eventually I would like to teach and write like so many of our faculty who inspire me,” she said. “My goal is to have a manuscript finished by the end of 2021. Having returned to writing later in life, I hope to enjoy a career revolving around the written word.”

Wells said the poem came from a writing assignment.

“Showing up matters. This poem was written when I was given a prompt during a writing workshop,” Wells said. “I stared at the blank page fighting with it to provide me something, anything. 

“What came up had nothing to do with the prompt but instead with the frustration that comes when the thing you love to do is hard, seems impossible and has you feeling defeated,” she aid. “If you still show up then you never know what you may get out of the experience. For me I got a winning poem.”

Third-place winner Golden said has increasingly turned to poetry after starting out as a writer of prose.

“I was more inclined to prose for a long time, and generally write even my poetry in long-form (sometimes multiple pages) too,” she said. “I have been writing poetry more often in the past couple years, as a coping mechanism to address a lot of mental/physical health problems.”

For Golden, the award comes just as she is finishing her degree at Highline.

“I have been at Highline since fall 2019,” Golden said. “I will graduate this winter 2021 quarter with my AA with an emphasis in English and completion of the Honors Program.”

She hopes to continue as a writing teacher in the future.

“I hope to teach creative writing in the local school near where I live (rural Montana),” Golden said. “Publish a couple books/memoirs/poetry collections, and do film photography on the side.”

Golden said her journals are reflective of her life’s many pages.

“I want people to look at journals a different way — that they are artifacts of the person writing in them, not just some scrap. My journal is full of pages from where I wrote drafts of suicide notes,” Golden said. “…drawings of flowers, word-dump collections, to-do-lists, drafts of letters to my long-distance boyfriend (now no longer long distance), poem and prose pieces, and prices of 1990 Toyota 4Runner parts, etc. Everyone is different, and a journal is a piece that can show them.”

Golden said her poems reveal her state of mind at various points in her life.

“Poetry has been an outlet for not only my creative and active mind- but also for my more subconscious emotional drives and pits,” she said. “Now looking back at my poems, I can remember the mood of which I was writing in, and can notice underlying messages I was writing to myself.

“I can tell when I was feeling horrific, because I wouldn’t have much (if any) positive poems, or light-hearted lines. Likewise, I can pinpoint the times when I was/am content, because there are more poems with optimism, and warm imagery.”