Winners Announced in 2023 Wisconsin Sijo (Wisijo) Contest

The Center for East Asian Studies at UW-Madison and The Sejong Cultural Society are pleased to announce the results of their 3rd annual 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.

In the Adult Division, Margaret King (Port Washington) and Angela Hoffman (Jefferson) were the runners-up, with Cristina Norcross (Oconomowoc) winning the Grand Prize for her sijo:

Capturing Light

Departure—sudden leaving, like early thaw, like low tide time
Looked for light, letters in drawers, lost messages, whispers in dreams
Your echo is a lightning bug, my memory is the jar.

“I was fascinated by the Sijo form, which I was unfamiliar with at the time.” Norcross explained when asked how she came to send in a submission “I am primarily a free verse poet, but have dabbled with pantoums and villanelles. The short-form poem is one that both confines and liberates the writer in the most beautiful ways. The trimming back, pruning, and refining involved in the editing process can create the higher-self version of a poem. It can be an extraordinary, poetic journey”

The Senior division (grade 12 and younger) runner-up was Tanner Harju (Hartland), with a tie for the Grand Prize between Ela Albrecht (Hartland) and Killian Weston (Hartland):


by Ela Albrecht

Red and green, presents under the tree. Grandma sits next to me.
Cinnamon, wafting from the kitchen, “Merry Christmas, Abby.”
But that’s my sisters name, not mine, “Merry Christmas Grandma”.


by Killian Weston

Teacher says, “Do not do drugs,” Yes, I’ll listen and understand
She lists off: “No Heroin, No Mary Jane, No White Cocaine”
Yet I am addicted to love, it’s the hardest drug there is

“My creative writing teacher, Elizabeth Jorgensen, introduced me to this style of poetry and I was immediately intrigued.” Weston recounted,  “Sijo was interesting to learn for me because I wanted to continue to grow my cultural palette. Sijo is beautiful because it grants the ability to create a beautiful poem to my liking, but it adds an extra hurdle or 2 due to the format, which is what I love. I love challenging myself and my mind so I can grow.”

Last but not least, the Junior Division (grade 8 and younger) had one runner-up, Taylor Keplin (Slinger), with the Grand Prize award to Pavani Gupta (Slinger):

Burning Trust

Fire, a valuable resource many use for warmth and cooking
You get a cozy feeling when sitting near the hearth, eating soup
Fire roars too and consumes everything in its path: backstabber!

In the third year of the competition, entries were received from Wisconsinites of all ages across the state, from Arbor Vita to Waukesha. To read all the entries, please visit the Sejong website. The next competition will open from August 2023 until January 2024, so our question is: what will your sijo be about?