Colette Tennant's poetry brings home awards at the State Fair

Monday, 4 September 2017

If Corban University were to bestow a ribbon on Dr. Colette Tennant for each of her award-worthy qualities, she’d probably have one hanging in her office for “Best Cookie Party,” for the tradition of decorating sugar cookies like characters from American novels with her students. She’d probably have a ribbon for “Best Themed Wardrobe,” for all the times she dressed to match the imagery in the literature she was teaching (red for fire imagery one week, floral patterns for stories about gardens the next—she probably even has an outfit that calls to mind yellow wallpaper).

But even more exciting than the hypothetical awards we could give her, are the accolades she received from the judges at the Oregon State Fair this year for the poetry she submitted. Tennant was awarded a third place ribbon for "Kakamora," a poem that delights in repetition, rhythm, and rhyme; Judge’s Choice for “Teaching Haiku,” a seventeen-syllable glance into the life of a poetry teacher; and Best in Division for “Oh Loretta, Oh Elvis,” a poem it is better to read slowly, twice through, than attempt to describe.

Enjoy all three of Dr. Tennant’s poems featured at the State Fair below.


Oh Loretta, Oh Elvis

Last week a tabloid reported Loretta Lynn

died on the table, and doctors

brought her back from the coal-black room.


Out of the list of lonely questions,

there’s just one

at the center.


Not the chairs,

the parlor,

the emptiness.


Not the lies,

the curtain,

not even the doorstep.


When Elvis recorded it,

his crew turned off all the studio lights,

so he could sing it in the dark.


It’s the line Elvis held

long and longer on his sweet lips

like a sip from one of Eden’s rivers,


held it on that unresolved chord.

Shall I come back again?

That’s the one that lingers in our hillbilly hearts.


Teaching Haiku

Grading Freshman poems

has forced me to eat Cheetos

at ten this morning.



When the Kakamora

come out in the night,

they play by the light

of the moon –

the harvest moon

with its pumpkin face

or the hunter’s moon

made of amber lace,

but the white, white moon

pale as cold, cold snow,

the Kakamora shun,

for the Kakamora know

their hands will shake,

their shoulders quake,

and their songs will have

nowhere to go,

in the moon’s cold light,

in the white, white night,

of a winter’s cold, cold snow.

  • Colette Tennant's poetry brings home awards at the State Fair
  • Colette Tennant's poetry brings home awards at the State Fair

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