Jean Corrie poetry prize winner discusses love, themes for poem ‘Bruises, Tongues, and a Funeral’

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Emily Lugos ’20 won the Jean Corrie Poetry Prize for the second time in her college career. (Photo courtesy of Emily Lugos)

Danielle Mullan

Emily Lugos ’20 is a first generation Mexican-American whose first language is English. Lugos explained that in her culture, many people will start with their first language as Spanish. Not fitting in with the norm, she said, she didn’t always feel like “a part of [her] culture.”

The cultural disconnect left her stranded in a middle-ground which she describes, “where I am not enough American and I am not enough Mexican.” “Bruises, Tongues and a Funeral,” for which Lugos won her second Jean Corrie Poetry Prize, deals with the discomfort Lugos experiences as a result of this struggle.

Since coming to Lafayette, Lugos said she has balanced her passion for poetry with her love for chemistry as a chemistry major and English minor.

The Jean Corrie Poetry Prize is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The prize was established in order to acknowledge student-written poems. The prize is open for freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the annual Ice Cream Social will be held on April 25 in the Marlo Room, along with a reading by Lugos and poet, Lafayette alumna, and judge for this year’s poetry prize Leslieann Hobayan. 

While Lugos said her winning poem freshman year was a result of her high school career, “Bruises, Tongues, and a Funeral” was the product of an assignment for her poetry class. The assignment required that the poems had to be written in a braided format, where several poems are integrated into each other coming together in some way that make them intertwine.

“[The class was] both wonderful and frustrating,” she said, adding that her initial reaction to the braided format poem assignment was “I don’t want to do that.” 

Over her years writing and performing poetry, Lugos said she developed “a certain flow and certain rhythm” when it comes to her writing, therefore being forced outside of that was difficult at first. However, that original discomfort is what Lugos believes led to her award-winning poem.

“Even though it was one of those painful assignments, it ended up being one of my best works of the semester,” she said.