Winners Announced in 2020 Wisconsin Sijo (Wisijo) Contest [Press release]

Inaugural sijo-writing contest recognized poets in three divisions 

Madison, Wisconsin  – The Center for East Asian Studies at UW-Madison and The Sejong Cultural Society are pleased to announce the results of their inaugural Wisijo competition. 

The goals of the competition included connecting with talented Wisconsin writers and encouraging them to learn and write a sijo (a Korean form of poetry). Through this competition, UW-Madison and The Sejong Cultural Society hoped to increase awareness and understanding of Korea’s cultural heritage.

Thomas Singleton, Winnie Chan, Laura Grossenbacher, and Elizabeth Jorgensen won the contest in the adult division. Singleton won top-prize with this sijo:

Seeker, consider the frog. The little, green yogi sits for hours,
motionless, unblinking, present, tongue ready to catch a fly.
Be like him. Acquire patience. Then feel free to spit out the fly.

“UW-Madison’s Center for East Asian Studies would like to thank The Sejong Cultural Society, our main collaborator on this competition, the librarians, teachers, and local organizations who promoted this competition, and all of the participants who took the time to learn something new,” said David Fields, Associate Director of UW-Madison’s CEAS. “I hope all participants enjoyed this experience and that it has provided a new avenue to connect with traditional Korean culture.”

Melanie Meyer, Sarah Bierman, Sidney Heberlein, Gianna Konen and Jordan Korpela won the contest’s senior division (grade 12 and younger). All were from Arrowhead Union High School in Hartland, Wisconsin. Harper Abel, Isabella Peterson, and Julia Zimdars won the junior division (grade 8 and younger).

We received truly beautiful poems, from many talented writers,” said Lucy Park, Executive Director of The Sejong Cultural Society. “The sijo allows for individual stories to be told within a specific structure. To have so much creativity and beauty shared, especially during this challenging year, was a true honor.

This year’s 238 entrants were judged by David McCann and Mark Peterson, accomplished professors of Korean language and literature.

Entries were received from Wisconsinites of all ages across the state, from Arbor Vita to Waukesha. Each division recognized a grand prize winner and several runners-up with a monetary prize and publication on The Sejong Cultural Society’s webpage

The Wisijo contest hopes to open the second annual competition in the fall of 2021.