Suffolk poet has honorable tastes

Published 10:34 pm Monday, May 7, 2018

Virginia Tech junior and Suffolk native AnnRea Fowler, 21, was recently honored for her outstanding poem that conveyed the different flavors of fiction.

Fowler was one of nine students to receive an honorable mention for her submission to the 13th annual Steger Poetry Prize contest at Virginia Tech for National Poetry Month in April. This year’s competition collected more than 100 entries, and the process was so competitive that the judges decided to choose 12 student finalists instead of the typical 10, according to the press release.

Fowler’s poem was called “Food for Thought.” The avid reader said she came up with her idea while she was looking on Pinterest for book-shaped cakes for her 21st birthday in April.


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Her poem was a love letter to books in which she describes tasting their unique flavors, from sweet children’s stories to the bitterness of Ray Bradbury.


“Dark chocolate pretzel wands decorate a cream envelope sealed with blood stone sprinkles,” she wrote in reverence to “Harry Potter,” one of her favorites. “Then, Rowling invites me from the Muggle world to abscond.”

She changes size in the poem like “Alice in Wonderland.” The sweet tastes of simpler tomes give way to dense flavors like George Orwell and Sylvia Plath. She wanted to describe the transition from children’s books to more mature novels as a visceral effect on her palate.

“I had to bring together everything I learned in class and incorporate it into this poem,” she said.

She never did get that book-themed cake for her 21st birthday, she said. Her actual present was the chance to read her poem to more than 100 students and faculty members on April 17 in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

Her voice didn’t crack, she said, but her hands did shake in front of the crowd.

“I was mentally fine, but my body wouldn’t stop moving,” she laughed.

She’s working on an English degree with a double major in professional and technical writing and creative writing. She plans to go to New York University this summer to study book publishing.

“Food for Thought” was her first competitive poetry submission but likely won’t be her last. She said she enjoys putting “raw emotion” onto the page, like the recent passing of her 12-year-old yellow Labrador.

“It’s helpful to create something out of pain — that’s pretty much how I feel about it,” she said. “Something dies, but then you can create something else.”