Two West Chester Students Win Honors at 24th Annual Poetry Conference

West Chester Students Win Poetry Honors

On Wednesday, June 5, attendees of West Chester’s 24th annual Poetry Conference gathered for one of the conference’s brightest highlights, the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards ceremony.

In all, $7,000 in total prize money was awarded to seven winning poets, five of whom attended the ceremony and read their work for the rapt audience. For the first time in seven years, West Chester University students were among those recognized with awards. Alecc Costanzi, a recent WCU graduate, won the first place Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award. WCU senior, Janie McNeil, won both the first and second place Rhina P. Espaillat Awards. 

President Chris Fiorentino presented a special certificate of recognition to Kean Spencer, who named the awards in honor of his mother, Iris N. Spencer. Iris Spencer died on April 15 of this year. President Fiorentino said, “Thanks to the support and generosity of Iris N. Spencer and the entire Spencer family, the WCU Poetry Conference will continue to help students and scholars see poems as the powerful microscopes and telescopes that they are, each poem magnifying from a new perspective.”

West Chester’s poetry conference has become a yearly destination for poets from around the world. The conference was recently hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “one of the biggest and best in the country.” Information at

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