Ailish Duff, senior, lands $1,000 prize for writing contest

$1,000 check. A certificated signed by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. A one year membership in Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. Ailish Duff, senior, placed first in the Greenfield Peace Writing Contest. She was doing the typical activity for a senior preparing to graduate in a couple of months: looking for scholarships. During the process, she came across the contest, sponsored by the Oregon PSR. The contest asked participants to explain how the following Dwight Eisenhower quote related to the world today: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

“I did not expect to win,” Duff said.

But win she did, and as a result she is experiencing  a whirlwind of activities following the victory. She read her poem at an event at the Oregon  Zoo on March 31. A press release has been printed in The Oregonian, The West Linn Tidings and Street Roots, a Portland magazine. She has had an interview on the community radio station KBOO as well. It all came as a surprise to Duff, who when checking her e-mail one day, found a message from the executive director of Oregon PSR telling her that she won first place.

The contest was not solely for poetry. The requirements were to respond to Eisnenhower’s quote in 600 words or less. Duff chose poetry because it is something she feels she can do well.

“I think better in poetry than in cohesive sentences,” she said.

Duff plans to use her $1,000 prize to help pay for books in college at New York University. This decision was helped by recently finding out that she was awarded a scholarship for all of her tuition at the school. Duff hopes to major in English.