Congratulations to Ella Sexton on her award winning poem! The second-year student won first place in the Artist of Promise Writing Competition at Paradise Valley Community College, and even more impressively, went on to win first place at the district level.
Artist of Promise is sponsored by the Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation (MCLI) and spotlights students work in a variety of categories including creative writing (poetry), dance performance, dance choreography, fashion design, film/media arts, music competition, instrumental music, vocal music, theatre design, theatre performance, and visual arts. Top prizes go on to compete at the national level, representing Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) in the national League for Innovation Creating Writing Contest.
As a creative writing student, Sexton used a personal experience for her poetry assignment in CRW150:Introduction to Creative Writing in Fall 2022. The poem, entitled Downsizing, is semi-autobiographical for Sexton, who said she wrote the impactful piece hastily during a frustrating time.
“My dad had just lost his job, so I was coming from a place of anger and really strong emotion and I just took those feelings and ran with it,” she explained. “I have a lot of systemic anger and a lot of feelings about the world we live in. I think this poem was just a catalyst and speaks to the bigger picture rather than just my personal experience.”
“This was the first poem Ella submitted early in the semester,” explained Professor Marianne Botos. “Feedback, especially in an online environment can be taken or not; Ella in poem-making was eager for feedback and embraced the feedback to ‘re-vision’ this poem. Ella worked this poem, as she always did, to take it from good to amazing.”
“This poem speaks volumes,” said Robyn Hesse, Sexton’s classmate, who also won in the Paradise Valley writing contest for poetry and short story. “Ella set the tone for a reality that is all too common…putting those emotions, struggles, and reactions into something the reader can relate to and empathize with.“
Sexton, who is graduating in May 2023 and transferring to Arizona State University, plans to major in psychology and minor in English. While she thoroughly enjoys English and plans to continue pursuing her writing, she said focusing on psychology will likely create a broader range for which to pursue a career. She said her own experience has helped her become more empathetic to others struggling and she hopes to possibly utilize this strength in her future career.
“I want to help others who have ‘fallen through the cracks’,” she said, adding this recognition has definitely motivated her to keep on writing. “I never thought anything would come of my submission. It definitely caught me off guard. I’ve been interested in writing ever since I was a kid, so this is special.”