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Three students receive Wallace Stevens poetry prizes (Released: 4/7/97)

by Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Three student poets have won the University of Connecticut's 34th annual Wallace Stevens Poetry competition.

The prizes were presented April 7 by distinguished poet Louise Gluck, who also read from her work during the program the Storrs campus. A second program took place April 8 at The Hartford's corporate headquarters. The annual program is sponsored by the UConn Department of English with support from The Hartford.

The student poets were judged on a short collection of poetry, and winners were presented with cash and book awards. They read from their prize-winning poems during the program.

The first prize was presented to Kimberly Freeman, a graduate student in English from MANSFIELD and SAN DIEGO, Calif. The second prize was presented to Jeanne LeVasseur, a graduate student in nursing from COLUMBIA, and third prize was given to Michael Schiavo, a sixth-semester undergraduate majoring in English (individualized major) from SOUTHBURY. Schiavo won second prize in the 1996 Wallace Stevens Poetry Competition. Some of his poems will be published in Writing UConn '97.

The poetry program began at UConn in 1964 with a gift from the Hartford Insurance Group to support cash awards and books of poetry as prizes to aspiring young poets and to bring a distinguished poet to the University. Over the years, the program has brought to Storrs such poets as Marianne Moore, Robert Lowell, W.S. Merwin, June Jordan, Anne Sexton, James Merrill, Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg and Carolyn Forche.

The program honors the memory of Stevens, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who was an insurance executive at The Hartford for 38 years. Stevens died in 1955, three months after receiving the Pulitzer. In 1949, he won the Bollingen Prize, and he received two National Book Awards for volumes of poetry published in 1951 and 1955.