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UMC professor of surgery sponsors poetry scholarships


Photo
JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Professor of surgery Dr. Marlys Witte reads some of her mother's poetry in her office in the University Medical Center.
By Troy J. Acevedo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
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Continuing the tradition of honoring a family's passion for poetry, 15 students were named Hearst Poets for original lyrical and populist poetry pieces.

Chosen from more than 50 applicants, 10 UA undergraduate students and five students from Pima Community College were recognized during a reception held Thursday at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

In its 13th year, the Frederica and John Hearst Prizes for the Undergraduate Poetry Contest are sponsored by Dr. Marlys Hearst Witte, professor of surgery at the University Medical Center and daughter of the late poets Frederica and John Hearst.

Twelve prizewinners each received $50, while the three grand prizewinners, two from the UA and one from PCC, were awarded $300. All applicants were given a certificate of recognition and an awards information packet.

In addition to teaching future physicians, Witte functions as an active physician specializing in lymphology, or the swelling of the human body.

Affectionately known as the "Ignorama Mama," Witte does not focus her teaching methods on commonly known areas but on important, unknown factors in medicine.

"It is important to learn about the things we don't know," Witte said. "In order to be a good physician, they need to ask questions."

From a young age, Witte said she had an emphasis placed on the importance of education by her mother Frederica Hearst, who struggled for 14 years to graduate magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa honors society while raising two children.

After Frederica Hearst's passing in 1977, the family discovered her love of poetry, which inspired John Hearst to write poetry almost every day until his passing in 1992, Witte said.

"As a scientist, you'd think I value science above all else, I actually value the poets" Witte said. "They thank me for the recognition and the award, I thank them for being poets."

Witte said the award was started as a way of recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of aspiring poetry writers and to serve as a memorial for the Hearst's and their love of poetry.

"The greatest memorial I could possibly give to my parents is when young artists are celebrated for their accomplishments," Witte said. "Not much special attention is given to poets - it is nice to be able to recognize them."

Usually between 55 and 75 undergraduates submit their poetry each year. UA faculty judges submissions from Pima and vice versa, Witte said.

"I think this contest is wonderful. Without something like this, we as poets would have no way of getting an real recognition," said Michael Martin, a junior majoring in English and grand-prize winner of the lyrical competition.

Witte is currently working on an idea to form an organization on campus called "The Hearst Poetry Club" for amateur poets.

"It all draws into poetry. If you can understand a poem, it is like being a scientist making a discovery," Witte said.



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