East Mississippi Community College graduate Teon Taylor’s poem “’Black’ Thoughts” earned him first place in the Poetry category of the 2017 Mississippi Community College Creative Writing Association Workshop & Contest.
In addition, the 2015-16 issue of EMCC’s literary magazine, “Syzygy,” took top honors among in-house college publications that were professionally bound in the contest that took place April 21 at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond.
Last year, EMCC’s literary magazine placed second in the annual competition among community colleges and students across Mississippi.
“Both our students and our magazine have traditionally done very well in the competition,” said EMCC instructor Marilyn Ford, who teaches courses in English Composition, British Literature and creative writing. “In the poetry division, we've had first-place winners three out of the last five years. And our Syzygy magazine has won its category several years as well.”
The annual contest rotates among the state’s community colleges. The last year the event took place at EMCC, there were about 140 entries for the poetry division alone, Ford said.
Other categories include short fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, and literary analysis.
Ford said Taylor is worthy of the award and described him as “a growing poet who excelled in Creative Writing classes.”
“Teon enjoys the play of poetry — playing with words, with images, with ideas,” Ford said. “His original, innovative verses deserve to be heard.”
Taylor, 21, is a Columbus resident who graduated from EMCC in December with a liberal arts degree. He plans on enrolling at the Mississippi University for Women in August.
“I was really, really surprised and excited at the same,” Taylor said of learning his poem had earned first place.
Taylor said the poem reflects the community in which he was raised.
“It is basically the mentality of the average African American here,” Taylor said. “It is based around stereotypes.
“One line in the poem talks about a car mediating and mandating their life. That is about trying to pimp out your car. That is all some people think about. You see them with big, huge rims on their cars and — I don’t want to say flamboyant — odd paint jobs on their cars.”
Ford said Taylor’s poetry translates well into the spoken word.
“His writing is rhythmic and lyrical and has almost the rhythm of a rap,” Ford said. “He is an amazing writer.”
Taylor credits Ford and her Creative Writing class with intensifying his desire to write.
“She inspired me to write more, whether it is about me, my community or my environment,” Taylor said. “I like to write about things that make people think.”
East Mississippi Community College graduate Teon Taylor, center, with his parents, John and Carol Taylor, at the 2017 Mississippi Community College Creative Writing Association Workshop & Contest. Taylor earned first place in the Poetry category in the contest.