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Student Poets Reflect on Loss

In remembrance of the late Gerald “Jerry” Healy, a Bethel English professor and lover of language, his family created an annual poetry contest. This is the second year Bethel’s English department has promoted the Jerry Healy Poetry Prize for the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS). The contest is open to all majors and represents the legacy Healy left behind.

Throughout his 30-year career at Bethel, Healy coached basketball, tennis, and golf; he also taught English, observed student teachers, and held the position of department chair. He enjoyed sharing Romantic poetry with the next generation. He retired in 1985, and he and his wife, Millie, then supervised a retreat center near Pine City, Minnesota. He died in June 2016.

This year’s contest theme was loss. Students submitted up to three poems, and Healy family members judged the anonymous submissions according to poetic technique, effectiveness, style, creativity, and theme. The top three winners received cash prizes, and the top six poems are published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Coeval, Bethel’s literary magazine.

The finalists (and winners) are:

  • “I am Tatiana” by Tatiana Lee (2nd place winner)
  • “Unkind Hands” by Carli Montpetit
  • “Lost and Found” by Melanie McGinniss (1st place winner)
  • “A List of Strangers We’ve Lost” by Hannah Toutge (3rd place winner)
  • “Pain” by Sophie Green
  • "On the East Coast of Ireland” by Lindsey Micucci

“When I saw the theme about loss, my first thought was lost things, like you’d find in a lost and found box,” says English literature and writing student Melanie McGinniss ’18. “Then I expanded on that to a wider variety of images that would represent some form of loss, particularly images that suggested a larger story or emotion behind them.” McGinnis, who feels most comfortable writing fantasy, has explored different types of writing in various classes, which have pushed her to submit her work to contests like the Jerry Healy Poetry Prize.

Media production student Lindsey Micucci ’19, who studied abroad in Vienna last fall, responded deeply to the theme of loss. “I read the theme and I thought, ‘Oh, I have poems that were born out of that place in me!’ I submitted this piece from this place in me that felt the absence of a person the most,” she explains. “As my passport filled up this fall—and even as I walk through these halls that are so different from the University of Vienna—the feeling of loss is reoccurring, whether that is of a person or a skyline or cities that are 5,000 miles away. I've come to know that many of the losses are permanent.” Micucci is grateful to her peers for encouraging her to share her voice. “I never thought to publish my poetry and writings until teachers and classmates encouraged and affirmed my words,” she says.

Learn more about Bethel’s English and Journalism Department and other student publications.