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Lord Denney’s Players Sonnet Contest Winners

April 23, 2024

Lord Denney’s Players Sonnet Contest Winners

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Lord Denney’s Players, the Department of English and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies are excited to announce the winners of the spring 2024 Lord Denney’s Players Sonnet Contest.

Earlier this semester, Ohio State undergraduate students from all colleges, campuses and majors were invited to submit individual Shakespearean sonnets. Winners were announced at the Department of English Awards Ceremony.  This year's winning entries will be published on the English Department’s webpage. Winning sonnets earn $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for honorable mention. 

This year's winning poets are as follows:

First Place: The Bureaucracy of Death – Nicholas Orzo, English

Second Place: The Sell – Jay Stewart Anderson, Creative Writing

Honorable Mention: His Name – Jay Stewart Anderson, Creative Writing

Scroll down to read the winning sonnets. The next Lord Denney's Players Sonnet Competition will be announced next winter. 


The Bureaucracy of Death by Nicholas Orzo

Death can only begin when we relent 
And answer until voice is not our own 
And offer life our signature assent- 
Obsession structured to repay the loan. 
No earthly fees belong to final breath, 
But the dimming of the eyes is credit 
When one, alive, forgets to promise death 
Their written word, spoken words indebted.  
Begin the papers early, long before 
Their final due. Lucid haste evades pain 
That accompanies a neglected chore 
And feeds the greedy glutted further gain. 
Take care before you feel that you should die, 
For, as such with life, death is but one try.


The Sell by Jay Stewart Anderson  

Would you be shocked to learn we live in Hell? 
In our money-owned underworld of things? 
Every day you wake there’s something to sell, 
but mainly yourself to the business kings. 

We also sell our bodies to fit in, 
living in reflections, behind a mask— 
some Botoxing their brain to get glass skin, 
some with dumbbell hands, dumb at every task. 

Clever cliques stand flat like phones in their hands, 
and as scrolling thumbs trading thoughts for likes. 
No one reads, but feigns facts to boost book bans, 
and to sell fire they stand as preening pikes. 

The worst sell God, their church of cheery fear, 
clueless Heaven or Hell is always Here.


His Name by Jay Stewart Anderson

A former President is on trial, 
but determined to drag us down again. 
Shameless lies and abuses oozing guile, 
these days the Devil always holds a pen.  

See, I don’t even need to say his name— 
aspiring tyrant, famed philanderer, 
crimes of cold and almost comic acclaim 
hoping to prey on our fears and error.  

Never again—we should say! Let’s all vote! 
We have the power to send him away 
before he goes for democracy’s throat 
to bring another insurrection day.>  

If not—his force and fraud might yet prevail, 
and we may live to see our nation fail.