WORCESTER, Mass. -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) junior David Corliss won the top prize in the Worcester County Poetry Association's College Poetry Competition on Sunday, April 27. Corliss received the Poetry Manuscript Prize for a collection of three poems.
Corliss, 22, a native of Clifton Park, N.Y., majors in Interactive Media & Game Development at WPI. His interest in electronic and interactive media extends to his poetry; he has studied digital approaches to literature, and often integrates images and hypertext in his writing. The judges singled out for special praise his poem, "The Nightmare of Michael DerGurahian," a richly nuanced, multi-layered work that included hypertext links to further parts of the poem.
After he completes his undergraduate studies at WPI, Corliss, who has been penning stories for the past 15 years, would like to pursue creative writing or study literature in graduate school. He began his study of poetry last year, after reading T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, and claims the Nobel Prize-winning poet as his favorite. He also enjoys the poet Ezra Pound, Imagism (an early 20th century literary movement), and the Beat poets of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Corliss' hometown, New York City, and Worcester inspire his writing.
"I'm proud and excited to have won the contest," said Corliss, who intends to enter future poetry competitions. "While it's nice to receive recognition for my hard work, this is only a starting point for me."
The competition was judged by Wayne-Daniel Berard, a poet, peace chaplain, and English professor at Nichols College in Dudley, Mass.; Lea C. Deschenes, a spoken-word performer and author of the forthcoming collection The Constant Velocity of Trains (Write Bloody Publishing, 2008); Rodger Martin, editor of The Worcester Review and author of three volumes of poetry, including The Blue Moon Series (Hobblebush, 2007); and Eve Rifkah, editor of Diner and artistic director of Poetry Oasis, Inc., whose next book of poems, Dear Suzanne, is forthcoming in 2010.
"David’s particular strength is his ability to integrate the visual sensibility with verbal and technological sophistication," said Svetlana Nikitilna, WPI's adjunct assistant professor of Humanities and Arts, who recommended Corliss enter the competition. "His use of new digital media is not mechanical, but driven by artistic goals. Hypertext allows him to achieve psychological layering of different lines of thought. Electronic literature and hypertext writing often fail to go beyond formal experiments in code, but David's work shows that digital could also be deep and richly expressive."