April 2, 2018 — Middlesex Community College student Mari Spallone of Clinton, Conn., was selected as a 2017–18 Connecticut Student Poet by the Connecticut Poetry Circuit. Spallone joined four other college student winners from Yale, Wesleyan, Trinity, and Quinnipiac for a poetry reading on Thursday, March 29, 2018, on the Middletown campus.
“It’s very surprising to receive this honor, especially since this is my first time writing poetry,” said Spallone, who is currently pursuing a liberal arts degree from Middlesex. “After a career in accounting and financial management, I was looking for a change and enrolled in a creative writing course at Middlesex. The first section of the class focused on poetry, and my professor encouraged me to enter my writing into the Connecticut Poetry Circuit competition.”
The final sentence in Spallone’s poem, “Eulogy,” reads, “Further downtown, long shadows and the endless sounds of the freeway, furtive glances, glass breaking, singing and voices shouting, shopping carts loaded with tattered discards, bodies settling in for the night in spaces staked out on sidewalks, their eyes watchful.”
Each year, the Connecticut Poetry Circuit selects five college students in Connecticut to read their work at several colleges and festivals throughout the state. Circuit selection judges this past year included Vivian Shipley, a Pulitzer Prize nominated poet and editor of the Connecticut Review, and the late Dick Allen, a Pushcart Prize winning poet and former poet laureate of Connecticut from 2010 to 2015.
“It was a pleasure having Mari in my creative writing class and working with her on revising her pieces during the nomination process. Her poet voice is so seasoned for such a new writer. Even the circuit director mentioned she ranked really high among the poets,” said Christine Ruggiero, professor of English at MxCC, who also coordinated the event.
Middlesex is proud to also recognize three previous students who have been awarded this rare honor: Ben Radcliffe, 2016, Hannah Watkins, 2011, and Jerry McGuire, 1978.
Established in 1968, the Connecticut Poetry Circuit continues the work of the New England Poetry Circuit, which was founded in 1964 by the Academy of American Poets and Holly Stevens, the daughter of Wallace Stevens, the acclaimed poet and Hartford insurance executive. In addition to Shipley and Allen, the circuit is guided by a panel of poets that includes Randall Horton, Clare Rossini, and Kate Rushin.
Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 65-plus degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.