“It’s true that you get rejected far more than you get accepted,” Corban student Savannah Busby says. Rejection was what she was expecting as she refreshed her email inbox for the third time.

When she first came to Corban, Savannah thought she hated poetry, until she was dragged “kicking and screaming” into Dr. Tennant’s poetry class by her peers. “Being in a creative community is irreplaceable,” she says. “I can’t think of a single thing that has grown me more as a writer than having my professors and peers that I trust speak into my work.”

It was in this community of creativity and encouragement that Savannah witnessed hatred transform into passion, as a love of poetry took root, was cultivated, and blossomed. A final refresh of her inbox brought a new email with an unfamiliar opening line. “We are excited to …” was all she needed to read.

Savannah’s entry, “Months Poem,” was awarded second prize in the New Poets category of the Oregon Poetry Association’s annual contest. Highly competitive, with many submissions each year from amateurs and professionals across the state, the competition brings with it an artistic milestone for Busby—her first published poem.

Previously, the poem sat in a jumbled document titled “poem scraps” for months and would not have seen the light of day without the encouragement of her fellow student poets. “This could not have been written if not for this community and the space it allowed me to explore who I am, because all three stanzas have specific symbolism in them,” she says. Beginning with the image of glow-in-the-dark stars pressed into the corner of her PVG dorm room, the poem is littered with personal moments and reflections from her time on Corban’s campus.

“Corban has been an incredible environment,” Savannah says. “Even though my poem isn’t overtly Christian or religious, all of my poetry is informed by my faith in Christ and how I see the world, so being able to explore that in this environment has allowed me to get to the core of who I am as a person.”

Where once Savannah considered poetry to be a burden, she has now found freedom within its structures and stanzas, and the moments where creativity rearranges, transforms, or even breaks down those expectations. “Poetry gave me the chance to explore little things that I had always seen but never had the canvas on which to paint them,” she says. “There is something about poetry that feels more like play, more instinctual to both read and write. You don’t have to struggle with extensive plotting and

characters. Poetry has to make sense, but not necessarily grammatical sense. It’s a sandbox.”

In this sandbox, Savannah has discovered not only a medium of expression and self-revelation, but a community that continues to strengthen, support, and encourage her. She has come a long way from being dragged, “kicking and screaming,” by her peers into Dr. Tennant’s poetry class. Now she walks in on her own two feet.

As a teaching assistant for Dr. Tennant, Savannah is able to encourage new students just like her to give something new and creative a try. “Don’t be afraid to try the things you didn’t think you were going to come here to do,” she says. “You never know what might stick.”

To read Savannah’s poem among the other winners selected by the Oregon Poetry Association, visit: https://oregonpoets.org/read-the-winning-poems-from-opas-new-poets-category-judge-alex-dang/