Gravel, mirror, sycamore, light, frivolous and marigold.  

Those were the words writers had to include in their submission to this year’s Broadside poetry contest.  

The winning poem by Olivia Martin, a junior math major, combined the words to create a scene based in Shenandoah National Park.  “I really like to hike, and I really hate capitalists,” Martin said. “So I decided to write a poem about the frustration I felt when people go and destroy something so pristine and undeveloped to make more money. I wanted to write a poem about what would happen if people stopped doing that.”

The six words were chosen by the Broadside editorial board. Greta Lapp Klassen, the executive secretary for the board, said, “We all just thought of a word and I had everyone email it to me… It ended up being pretty funny.”

Broadside is an on-campus publication run by the English Department.  It has been a part of Goshen College since 1976, and it supports the creative expression of faculty, staff and students through writing. 

“Broadsides are traditionally poetry that people subscribe to receive,” Lapp Klassen said. A board of faculty and students receive poetry submissions and take them through the process of publication.  

Broadside also occasionally holds competitions like the one this year.  

The call was put out this spring for anyone in the GC community to submit poems using at least four of the six words provided. 

Eight poems were submitted and they were ranked by the Broadside committee.

First place went to Martin’s poem “mountain mirror.”  Poems by Annika Fisher and Oscar Murguia tied for second. 

Martin described her submission as “a poem about running away from society and the fear — both my own [fear] and the fear of the people who destroy [wild] places — that someday there won’t be a way to escape [society] anymore.”  


‘mountain mirror’


the chromium throne and the glittering gems

at the pinnacle of the world of men

carve canyons which they refuse to mend

as they break the backs that refuse to bend


but they watch as the people find reprieve

in the frivolous joy of a mountain breeze

and the emerald light under sycamore trees

which they blame for the peaks of their growing unease


so they polish the world to a mirror shine

so it can’t reflect what they fear inside

and the ancient paths become gravel drives

that shine dull grey under once-green light