UC Santa Cruz student wins top honors in statewide poetry contests

A University of California, Santa Cruz, student has earned top honors in two California statewide poetry competitions. "I'm elated," said Kristen Holden, a junior majoring in literature. "Of course it's what I wanted, but I wasn't expecting it to happen."

Both of Holden's prize-winning works are expansive love poems. "Ten Love Poems Aching from Three Days" won first place in the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Competition, and "The Squaring of a Conversation between Loves" earned second place in the Poet Laureate Contest.

"Kristen's poems are meditative and lyrical at the same time," said Charles Atkinson, an instructor in the UC Santa Cruz Writing Program. "Her winning poems are startling, demanding and delicious all at once--quite a ride, from a gifted poet." Holden was recently accepted into the creative writing concentration in the UC Santa Cruz Literature Department.

The two poetry competitions were established in honor of Ina Coolbrith, who was appointed California's first poet laureate in 1915. They are both open to students from all campuses of the University of California, and the Coolbrith Memorial is also open to students at five additional California universities.

Holden's accomplishment continues a tradition of prize-winning poets at UC Santa Cruz. Since 1997, UC Santa Cruz students have earned six awards in the Poet Laureate and the Coolbrith Memorial competitions, including three first prizes. Holden will receive a total cash prize of $325 with her awards.