MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Two poems by Penn State Harrisburg student Jesse Cristoforo were selected for publication in the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, a journal of creative writing published by the international English honor society.
Cristoforo’s poems “Orchards” and “Wanted” appear in the 2023 edition of the Rectangle. An English major, Cristoforo was encouraged to submit the works by Jen Hirt, associate professor of creative writing and composition, who is the adviser of Alpha Upsilon Zeta, the campus chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.
“Orchards” is a piece Cristoforo wrote for a class. The poem was sparked by a good-natured debate with a friend about juice but evolved into a piece about disagreements and reconciliation.
“Wanted” is a more personal work, he said, centered on the idea of feeling “never good enough … despite all the things you try to accomplish, it never seems like it is enough.”
Cristoforo said he was excited for his works to be selected. He has been writing creatively as a hobby for more than a decade, but it hasn’t always been an easy path. He wrote a piece for the campus literary arts magazine, Fission, about the journey of feeling frustrated with poetry but improving over time.
“Essentially poetry is this practice of self-reflection and love … whether it’s for the world around you or yourself,” Cristoforo said. It can be difficult, he said, but also meditative.
Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Humanities has had a chapter of the English honor society since 2013. Cristoforo is the third Penn State Harrisburg student in that time to have a work accepted for the Rectangle, and he’s the first student to have two pieces selected, according to Hirt.
“The accomplishment not only highlights Cristoforo’s talent as an author, it also highlights the success of the creative writing option within the English major and within the School of Humanities,” Hirt said.
Below is the full text of “Wanted.”
Somewhere awaits a stone
by sandy shores; unsought
by collectors; surrounded
by shimmering shells; simple
by design; and intentionally worthless.
Somewhere, find a stone
and appreciate its pock-marked texture;
and appraise its crystalline heart;
and admire its brush stroke pattern;
and finally, return it to its gurgling waters.
One day, keep a stone
and an old friend will ask
“But isn’t it worthless?”
But isn’t it charming?
Isn’t it interesting?
Isn’t that good enough?
My heart has become stone.