Chester Poets Earn SWIC Honors


Jessica Ixcoy & Julia Nicole Venus

Two Chester High School students placed in the 2022 Southwestern Illinois College Red Bud Campus Poetry Contest.
Junior Julia Nicole Venus placed second and sophomore Jessica Ixcoy was third.
Venus, a regular contributor to the Sting poetry site that was launched this year, was honored for the poem “Already Dead.” Her winning poem appears on the Sting poetry page. It is the story of a woman who has been dealt bitter blows in this life and has learned to deal with those blows by hardening herself until she feels no more and waits for death.

“Julia describes this person as someone who blankly wanders sober/ only static in her brain,” the judges commented. “There was a time when she felt hope seen in these words: She dreamt of days of rescue, but she is past that now. The last two lines are a perfect summation of her present state. They say: A walking corpse with no remorse, / breathing but already dead.'”

Venus uses rhythm and rhyme throughout the poem, but the internal rhyme of corpse and remorse is especially interesting.

“Julia, continue to write. You have a gift for it” the judges concluded.

Her hobbies are painting, drawing, hiking, writing and reading. Her favorite poet is Emily Dickinson, and her favorite poem is Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” It was one of the Dickinson poems read in her junior English class this year, although Venus said she had already read it earlier.

Ixcoy won for her poem, “Paper.” Her favorite poet is Dr. Seuss and her favorite poem is “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, which was read at the Presidential Inauguration in 2021.

Ixcoy said she wants to recognize and thank her teacher, Mrs. Hammel, for encouraging her and helping her with her poetry.

In “Paper,” Ixcoy examines the way paper has been used over the years and by us today. She sees the blank paper as a challenge and describes the many documents and writing which would not be if not for paper.

“Jessica uses some exact verbs such as spill, tear, burn and seeps. Also, she uses some strong nouns such as ache and rumble which is especially interesting since they are usually used as verbs,” the judges wrote. “Jessica, keep thinking and writing creatively. Your creativity shows in this poem.”