By Kelsey Block
Visiting writer Sofia Starnes, the poet laureate of Virginia, announced at her reading last night that RCAH Center for Poetry intern Jenny Crakes won this year’s Annie Balocating Poetry Prize.
Crakes said she was both surprised and excited to have won the $500 award.
“The poem was about a road trip that I took with my family last summer in July and we were going to see The Royal Tyrrell Museum,” Crakes said. “It just made me think of watching the mountains as you drive away from them and drive back. They’re sort of just perched there watching you. And when you’re driving back they just appear really shadily on the horizon and you get close and closer. It was just so beautiful.”
Crakes, 21, started as an intern at the center in September. Her work focuses largely on community engagement, and entails conducting workshops with elementary school students and senior citizens at Edgewood Village.
“I think I try to focus on things that will make poetry seem accessible to people, like activities or really specific writing prompts,” Crakes said. “What I really like is seeing how everyone is willing and able to express themselves. Often, I’m surprised by the ideas people come up with so quickly.”
The RCAH and Professional Writing junior said she has been writing since childhood – her first piece was a series based on her twin cousins.
Now, Crakes’ favorite genres are poetry, short stories and plays.
“I love writing purely for the imagination of it, but I’m also really curious about how I can use it in bigger ways,” she said. “I’m really interested in the different ways that creative writing can be used for good in the world – to bring awareness of political issues or how people are feeling in different situations, or whether it’s used to interest people in life again.”
Currently, in honor of National Poetry Month, Crakes is working on a blog. “The April Project” is a collection of previously published poetry juxtaposed with Crakes’ own work. She said she decided to take on the project to inspire herself.
“As I’m going with it, it makes me look at things in the day differently because I’m looking for details or things that might be interesting later,” she said.