Junior Bri Davis places first in the SIUE Poetry Contest

At+the+Southern+Illinois+University+Edwardsville+observation+of+Dr.+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+luncheon%2C+junior+Bri+Davis+receives+the+Poetry+Award+from+Chancellor+Dr.+Randy+Pembrook+Jan.+22.+In+addition+to+her+recognition%2C+Davis+also+won+%24100+for+her+poem.+%22I+don%27t+know+how+to+feel%2C+I+am+just+so+beyond+excited%2C%22+Davis+said.

Debra Klevens

At the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon, junior Bri Davis receives the Poetry Award from Chancellor Dr. Randy Pembrook Jan. 22. In addition to her recognition, Davis also won $100 for her poem. "I don't know how to feel, I am just so beyond excited," Davis said.

After being recommended to participate in the SIUE Poetry Contest, junior Bri Davis came out on top to take the first place prize.

Davis first heard about the competition through journalism advisor Debra Klevens and decided to compete to help further her understanding of writing. The contest is meant to “focus on the theme, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Beyond 1963, serving as a call of reflection on the state of our nation and communities since the delivery of the 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”

“It all has to do with the class for me,” Davis said. “I joined [Convergence Journalism] because I wanted to better myself in becoming a future photojournalist, so I was hoping for more opportunities. So when Mrs. Klevens sent me the contest, I was like ‘oh, this is great for me to practice my skills and get better at what I want to do in the future.’”

Davis was personally attached and inspired by the prompt of interpreting the meaning of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at Oberlin College.

“The prompt was given to you, and you went off of the speech that he gave at Oberlin College so you just could incorporate it or interpret it any way you wanted to,” Davis said. “I would say personal experiences, my parents and just living every day inspired me for the topic I chose. You see things happen every day, and some things stick with you.”

Davis was not sure at first if she had the ability to win, but she knew she at least needed to make an effort.

“While writing this, I was hardcore. My older brother went to college as an English major, [so] I asked him for help. I asked Mrs. Klevens for help,” Davis said. “I had my mom read it, and I read it at least three times before I mailed it because I wanted it to be the best I could make it.”

When I read it like three times, I started crying because I had never won such a big award before. Of course, you have the simple awards that you win at school, like your GPA and things like that, but this was a whole different thing,”

— junior Bri Davis

Davis’ efforts finally paid off once she received an email from Klevens on her performance in the contest.

“I was on the bus ride home, and I was just about to get off. I’m reading [the] email, and I’m like ‘what?!,’” Davis said. “When I read it like three times, I started crying because I had never won such a big award before. Of course, you have the simple awards that you win at school, like your GPA and things like that, but this was a whole different thing, and I just felt overly excited. I called my mom, I called my dad, I called my friends, I called everyone because I did something great, and I want people to know. It just left a good impact on me.”

Davis was surprised by the outcome and hopes more opportunities similar to this come at her moving forward.

“My mom always says that all the time that I am a very doubtful person of myself anytime I do anything so with this, I went in just thinking, ‘let’s just give it a try,’” Davis said. “I didn’t think I would win. I didn’t think I would lose. I wasn’t thinking about anything else than let’s just give it a try and so knowing that I just tried actually got me somewhere makes me think maybe I should keep trying.”

Debra Klevens
Junior Bri Davis stands with her father Ywain Davis and mother Deandria Davis as she entered the reception. Davis’ poem and picture were featured at the entrance.

Though Davis did not see the potential within herself at first, Klevens always knew she was capable.

“I think Bri is capable of anything she sets her mind to. I think it’s limitless. I think what sets Bri apart from other students is that all students have the potential to be better writers, but Bri’s work ethic and drive set her apart. Bri won’t stop until she masters something, and she won’t stop asking questions. [She is] not afraid to try, fail, reprocess and go back at it.”

Davis is thankful for the opportunities that were around her and hopes to keep utilizing them to the fullest to improve her writing and photography skills.

“It just pushed me and left an impact of [improvement] and making me better than what I am now, so I’m going to continue journalism,” Davis said. “I’m going to continue photography, and I’m going to keep using the opportunities that are around me because there are so many and I’m not going to let them go to waste.”

Because Klevens sees the work ethic and drive that Davis puts towards her work, she believes it will take her further in her writing skills.

Bri, since day one, has wanted to grow and become a better writer, and she loves the challenge. I love working with students that want to be pushed and she loves to be pushed,”

— journalism advisor Debra Klevens

“I’m so proud of her because all year long, I send out different contests, and Bri is really takes me up on any contest. She’s always so disappointed when she doesn’t win. So when I got the email at 3:05 p.m. on Wednesday, I immediately forwarded it to her and congratulated her because I knew how much it would mean to her,” Klevens said. “Bri, since day one, has wanted to grow and become a better writer, and she loves the challenge. I love working with students that want to be pushed and she loves to be pushed.”

After gaining more writing experience from the competition, Davis gives some advice to those looking to go down the same path.

“Don’t be afraid at all. Don’t be afraid to try things you’re not used to and make sure that you have people to support you and push you into doing better things because that’s what continues to push you and move forward in life,” Davis said.