2022 Sejong Writing Competition

Sijo Winners


  Adult Division Pre-college Division
First Place Martin Willitts, Jr.
Syracuse, NY
sijo
Gabrielle Wincherhern
Woodbridge, CT
12th grade, (Jennifer Bonaldo)
Amity Regional High School
sijo
Second Place Stephanie Malley
Trafford, PA
sijo
Natalie Vogt
Hartland, WI
12th grade, (Elizabeth Jorgensen)
Arrowhead Union High School
sijo
Third Place Ben Griffis
Alexandria, VA
sijo
Cathy Nguyen
San Gabriel, CA
12th grade, (Marguerita Drew)
Gabrielino High School
sijo
Honorable Mention

Friend of the Pacific Rim Award
  Elizabeth Gill
Dublin, OH
11th grade, (Tim Flora)
Dublin Jerome High School
sijo
  Emma Homrig
Redwood City, CA
8th Grade, (Suhail Rafidi)
Odyssey Middle School
sijo
  Izeabella Jerger
Oconomowoc, WI
11th grade, (Elizabeth Jorgensen)
Arrowhead Union High School
sijo
  Ashley Park
Dix Hills, NY
(Rachel Crowe)
Half Hollow Hills High School West

sijo

 

Christina Todd
Chattanooga, TN
12th grade, (Chuck Newell)
Notre Dame High Scool
sijo

        ( )  Teacher's name

 

Adult division

Martin Willitts, Jr.

first place

My name is Martin Willitts Jr. I am a retired Library Director. I have published 20 full-length collections of poetry.

This was the first time I wrote a sijo. I worked on it over and over. I have more experience with haiku, tanka, and haibun.

My hobby is organic gardening and I have taught myself about growing healing plants.

My personal hero is my grandparents that taught me the value of silent worship and working in the old ways of farming.

I was actually a blacksmith when I was a teen. As a poet, my goal is to improve my poems and poetic techniques.

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Stephanie Malley

second place

I’m a stay-at-home mom who likes to read (juvenile fiction especially), pray, encourage others, and engage in verbal wordplay around the dinner table with my family. I consider myself an occasional poet because I tend to write only when inspired; however, I enjoy participating in April’s National Poetry Writing Month prompts, and it was a prompt on napowrimo.net one year ago that introduced me to the sijo form.

I followed the link to the Sejong Cultural Society’s guide to writing sijo and submitted my first one just before the competition closed. In studying past winners’ entries this time, I realized I hadn’t understood the twist correctly, so I paid particular attention to getting that right.

“Mourning My Mom” is one of an ongoing series of poems—sijos, fibs, shadormas—written after the recent deaths of my parents. These short poetic forms are like small word puzzles—I love figuring out how to make everything I want to include fit within the structure of the poem.

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Ben Griffis

third place

I am a statistician in the DC area, where I live with my wife and energetic yellow lab. In my free time I enjoy learning about Korean history, writing, learning languages, and analyzing soccer matches & data.

I heard about this competition after searching the internet for information about Sijo, which I discovered through my interest in Korean history and culture. Everything about the art form immediately piqued my interest and I'm very grateful for all the great resources the Sejong Cultural Society has on the website. They provided direction to start learning more and more about the style of poetry.

Reading and writing Sijo has been a wonderful (always unfinished) journey. My favorite aspect of Sijo is that the third line can completely shift the meaning of the first two, retaining their words but altering their underlying feeling. The demand of Sijo to do that both quickly and coherently makes me appreciate all authors for their skill. I'm excited to continue my journey learning about and writing Sijo.

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Pre-college division

Gabrielle Wincherhern

first place

I'm Gabrielle Wincherhern, and I'm a senior at Amity High School. In college, I'd like to study conservation biology, psychology, foreign languages, and digital media. In addition to writing, I enjoy reading, animating, drawing, playing video games, and music, though writing is the longest-held of any of these hobbies.

While writing this sijo, I learned how to be short with my writing. Often my writing is overly verbose, but writing a poem as short as a sijo forced me to pare down my writing and make my words count.

I wanted to capture the feeling of wanting things one would or could never have, and it was something of a challenge for me to get it across in so little words. Admittedly, I thought the possibility of being awarded in this contest might turn out to be yet another thing I wanted but couldn't have, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out otherwise. I'm so honored to have received an award.

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Natalie Vogt

second place

I am a senior at Arrowhead High School. I play basketball for my school team and I also run track. I love to be outdoors and take my dogs on walks. I also have recently found a love of reading.

In my future, I hope to participate in more writing competitions, just like this one.

I learned about the sijo competition through my creative writing class at Arrowhead High School. My teacher, Ms. Jorgensen, taught my class about sijo poems. Writing sijo poems taught me how to convey my thoughts in a limited amount of words. It showed me that sometimes saying less is more.

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Cathy Nguyen

third place

My name is Cathy Nguyen and I am currently a senior at Gabrielino High School. I heard about this competition from my AP Lit teacher, Mrs. Drew as part of an extra credit assignment. I am grateful to her for always pushing us to do our best and go beyond.

While writing my sijo, I learned to simply go with the flow of writing and accept changes to my initial ideas as I go along. Originally, I wanted to use the metaphor of a butterfly to convey a different topic but my ideas gradually evolved during my process into something better.

The experience taught me that poetry is a journey with many twists and turns; the results aren’t always what you expect.

In my free time, I enjoy making art, whether it be drawing, painting, or sticker decos. I also enjoy seeing because I have a profound love for plushies and my favorite one is named Momo.

My personal heroes are my sister and my best friend. My sister has always encouraged me to pursue my creative interests and stay true to who I am. My best friend is the most resilient person I know and her endless support has helped me overcome many obstacles.

Next fall, I’m planning to go to UC Irvine and major in Psychology.

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Elizabeth Gill

honorable mention

I heard about this competition from my English teacher, and I learned about how to put my ideas in different formatting to further shape them!

My hobbies include singing and writing, and I also love tea.

My personal hero is my mom, for always working harder than she needs to.

My future goals are to get my IB diploma, and to broaden my knowledge at college.

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Emma Homrig

honorable mention

My name is Emma Homrig, I would like to say thank you for looking at my work. I am in 8th grade at Odyssey School in San Mateo and I learned about this competition through my language arts teacher, Suhail Rafidi. He encourages us to branch out and share our writing with the world.

While writing my poem I learned how much I enjoy expressing myself through words on a page, whether it be hobbies or sides of myself I don't get to show often.

My personal interests include reading, writing, Japanese language and culture, crew, and cooking. I would say the person I look up to most is my sister, she is very passionate about rowing and school. Every day I learn something new from her.

As for future goals, I am only thirteen but I think I want to pursue cooking and eventually run my own restaurant. Here is a recent photo of me:

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Izeabella Jerger

honorable mention

I first heard about this sijo competition from my creative writing teacher Ms. Jorgensen.

Writing this sijo taught me a whole new writing style that I hadn't heard of before and it got me interested in learning more styles that I haven't been taught.

I love to do art and have formed an interest in Criminology, which I’d like to learn more about; I hope to pursue it in the future.

My personal hero would have to be my mom. She has always been there for me and supported me through everything that I do and I hope to continue making her proud.

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Christina Todd

honorable mention

My name is Christina Todd, and I am a senior at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I plan on majoring in business and digital design at Furman University next fall. I am co-president of our school’s botany club and enjoy reading, skating, and playing guitar.

I learned about this competition through my AP English teacher, Mr. Newell. Writing this sijo allowed me to express my creativity and feelings about a very personal experience.

I’d like to say thank you to Mr. Newell who has been an amazing teacher this year and has taught me so much.

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