(Left to right) Jamie Haas, Natalie Roberts and Annika Bastian pose with their prizes, alongside Laura DeRocher, editor-in-chief for The Tower. Photo by Katy Barnes

Poetry is one of the many staples of traditional Valentine’s Day gift giving. If executed properly, it is sentimental enough to make anyone swoon.  

If done improperly, however, it becomes the inspiration for events such as the “Crappy Love Poetry Competition,” hosted by The Tower. The annual event held by the local literary magazine exists to celebrate and bring attention to certain types of poetry that are often overlooked as lesser than – the comedic variety.  

Meeting in the Farmer Hall on Feb. 14, the poets arrived excited to share their skills with the rest of the group. The term crappy in this instance is a loose one, and each poet had their own interpretation of the prompt given. Poems ranged in length and language; going between short and sweet to lengthy and almost Poe-esque. 

Third place winner Annika Bastian’s poem was stated to be inspired by the Romantic poets and was what she imagined they might write in the modern day to their “Capital L Lovers.” In her poem she led an in-depth exploration of the act of gifting and eating a box of chocolates, going into incredibly intense detail.

 Bastian’s poem was the only entry to delve into the horror genre, offering audience members a case of the heebee-jeebies, rather than the giggles.  

Second place went to Jamie Haas and her poem about Scorpios. Written admittedly quickly, the poem discussed a common romantic struggle – zodiac signs and their compatibility. Written to be semi-serious, yet semi-comedic, Haas’ piece begged the question: “Where is the water sign of my dreams?” 

First place winner, freshman Natalie Roberts, won over the crowd with a poem inspired by Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” The poem’s message was simple – this Valentine’s Day is a man-free occasion. This theme appeared throughout the night’s poetry and was one many attendees were incredibly enthusiastic about. 

The audience adored the brashness and honesty in Roberts’ poem, making it the winner of the evening.

Roberts’ poem included lines such as “I do not like men in a house. I do not like men as a spouse. I do not like men in my bed. I do not like men in my head.” She added, in reference to Seuss, “I do not like Green Eggs and Man, I do not like you Chad or Sam.” 

While the competition had a plethora of entries, not all attendees were there to compete. Many students came to support their fellow creatives and just enjoy a non-romantic Valentine’s Day activity. 

Audience member Isabella Zigler did not participate in the competition, but she attended because “it allowed people who like poetry to come together in a lighthearted, fun way.”  

“The Tower” is Montevallo’s premiere literary magazine, featuring student-made art, short stories and poetry. They meet every first Tuesday of the month and you can learn more about them @umthetower on Instagram.