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AP Literature Essay Contest

The English Department at Western Kentucky University is pleased to announce the First AP English Essay Contest. To complete an application, click here, and then submit a 500-750-word essay on Jim Wayne Miller's "Chopping Wood" to english.office@wku.edu, with "AP Lit" for email subject line (MLA style; pdf format).

The English Department will invite finalists, their teachers, and family to campus for a reception and ceremony on March 29 where they will be recognized. The winners will receive scholarships if they choose to major or minor in English at WKU and cash prizes whether or not they attend WKU.

First Place: $500 Scholarship and $300 cash; Second Place: $300 Scholarship and $200 cash; Third Place: $200 Scholarship and $100 cash. The winners’ schools will receive $50 contributions to their PTA funds. Applications and Essays are due March 8.



The following poem is by Jim Wayne Miller. Read the poem carefully, and then write a well-organized, 500-750-word essay analyzing how effectively the poet uses poetic devices to develop attitudes about labor.


Idling traffic, fumes 
at a busy intersection of nerves. 
Dances on the deck 
of coffee-laden freighters plying arteries. 
Smoke-filled meetings floating 
through veins, tables turning. 
The sting of nicotine 
laid like a lash on a horse's rump. 
That screech and snort,
that babble and grunt 
disappears around a bend in the blood. 

Merciful, hard labor numbs the nerves as it 
advances, snuffs our every light 
in a steady rain of darkness. Pain goes to sleep 
as night falls over any small farm of flesh.

And the resurrection and miracle of rest 
after labor: arms awakening, a hundred 
tingling lights lit along creeks and ridges; 
a rooster crowing in flesh becoming light 
with birdsong from the meshed branches of nerves 
casting shadows like trees along the river.



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 Last Modified 8/8/18