For Immediate Release — Friday, May 5, 2006


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

SUNY Geneseo starts peace poetry contest for area schools

Student winners will present their poems May 16 at ceremony

GENESEO, N.Y. — "Peace is when it is silent./Peace is relaxing and still./Peace is broken by the sounds of/Gunfire, storms, and the crashing of cars./Peace to me is the quiet.

—A poem titled "Peace" by Joshua, a sixth-grader from Caledonia-Mumford.

"Peace to me is riding horses./Peace to me is brushing horses./It might be hard work,/But it is worth it./Horses bring me peace."

—A poem titled "Peace and Horses" by Taylor, a second-grader from Dansville.

These are two of the 50 award-winning poems penned by students from the Genesee Valley as part of the First Annual Genesee Valley Peace Poetry Contest sponsored by the State University of New York at Geneseo's English department.

The goal of the contest is to provide students the opportunity to creatively reflect on the theme of peace at a time when so much of what they encounter in the media is dominated by images of violence, said Rob Doggett, an assistant professor of English who is spearheading and organizing the contest. While students could write about war and the current conflict in Iraq, the contest's mission is to encourage young people to think about what brings peace to their lives and how young people could help to create a more peaceful world.

"It's really about giving young people the chance to write about peace at a time when a lot of what they encounter on television is violent," said Doggett. "What gives them peace? They don't get the chance to think about where they get peace? When are they content and happy?"

Doggett, who is in his first year teaching at Geneseo, worked on a similar poetry contest at SUNY Potsdam. Paul Saint-Amand, his colleague at Potsdam who is a Vietnam-era veteran, has been organizing a peace poetry contest there for several years. And when Doggett arrived at Geneseo, he thought the contest would be a great way for the college to reach out to the community.

"It's very much a part of Geneseo's mission and goals to build community in the broadest sense beyond the college," said Richard Finkelstein, professor and chair of the English department. "It's really crucial for Geneseo students to become involved in the community as part of their public liberal arts college education."

Seven SUNY Geneseo English majors judged the poems and created the layout for the chapbook. They poured through more than 250 students, in kindergarten through eighth grade from about 16 school districts in the Genesee Valley, that submitted poems. First-place will be awarded in three categories: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades.

An awards ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, in Newton Hall, Room 204. It is free and open to the public. Student participants are encouraged to invite their families and friends.

Each of the 50 winning poets will receive a certificate and a chapbook, or small booklet, of the poems.

The contest also is supported by the Provost's Office and Sundance Books.