A micropoetry contest focused on the theme of unity in diversity at Miami University is accepting submissions until Friday, April 21.

The Miami University Creative Writing Program is running the competition in collaboration with Miami President Gregory Crawford, who approached Director of the Creative Writing Program Cathy Wagner with the idea just in time for the contest to coincide with the celebration of National Poetry Month.

Anyone in the Miami community is welcome to submit poems through Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #LoveHonorPoem, and students are eligible to win prizes.

The rules are simple: poems must fit within Twitter’s 140-character maximum and still allow room for the hashtag, or contestants can post a photo of their short poem on Instagram. Multiple submissions are welcome, and three students will win a grand prize that includes a Love & Honor medal and a $40 gift certificate to the Miami University Bookstore. Up to 100 honorary prizes will be awarded in the form of an $18.09 bookstore credit.

The length constraint requires participants to hone their skills in brevity, but the challenge of compression intrigues students like first-year Delaney Heisterkamp, a creative writing and professional writing double-major.

“When you think [about poetry] in a new way in terms of size, it’s going to influence how you write,” said Heisterkamp, who is wary of how the character count will impact her word choice. Playing with spacing and abbreviations are two ways she hopes to convey meaning when lengthy words won’t fit.

For Oxford resident Steve Ormiston, poetry is his retirement hobby. He is currently enrolled in Miami’s advanced poetry workshop course, and sees the contest as a goal to pursue in an area he’s passionate about.

“I like constraints…I kind of like the idea that we’re all in the same container as far as what we have to work with,” Ormiston said. Sometimes one of the challenges of poetry, he added, is to say a lot in a short amount of space, and that’s exactly what this contest demands.

When President Crawford approached Wagner about having the micropoetry competition, she was ecstatic.

“He was so enthusiastic about [the idea],” recalled Wagner.

Crawford described the contest as “such a Miami thing to do,” citing poetry’s deep roots at Miami with Percy MacKaye being the first poet-in-residence at an American university. MacKaye came to Miami in 1920 at the invitation of Miami’s then-President, Raymond Hughes.

“The theme of unity in diversity will help us all think more about what it means to be a Miamian,” Crawford wrote in an email.

According to Wagner, Crawford has even written his own micropoems, some of which have been posted.

“The strength of the body / Comes from different parts / The strength of Miami / Comes from different people / Love&Honor make us One / #LoveHonorPoem,” reads one of Crawfords Twitter submissions.

“If he has time to shoot out a poem, I think everybody else can probably do it too,” she said with a smile.

Miami poetry faculty will judge entries and aim to announce prizewinners at the end of April.

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