The Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry

About Annie Balocating


Submissions are now open for the Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry.

Open to MSU undergraduate students in any major, the Balocating Prize awards $500 for a single poem.

To enter, submit up to three poems with a separate cover sheet including your name, email, and phone number. Poems must not identify you as the writer. Submit your entry to

Deadline for entry: Friday, March 30.


The winner will be announced during our Spring Poetry Festival, by judge Leila Chatti at her reading April 18.



Annie Balocating holds a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College/CUNY, a Master of Arts in Anthropology from Hunter College/CUNY, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University (MSU). At MSU, Annie was an avid poet and a member of the Residential Option In Arts and Letters (ROIAL) program. Her M.A. thesis on Rwandan genocide memorials and collective remembrance was nominated for the 2009 Hunter College Shuster Award for Outstanding Thesis and her Rwanda research has been featured in Peace Review. She has called Brooklyn, New York her home for the last fourteen years, living with her husband Jeremy Couillard (also a ROIAL and MSU alumnus).




Past Winners

2011 Korey Hurni

2012 Grace Pappalardo

2013 Tony Lograsso

2014 Jenny Crakes

2015 Connor Yeck

2016 Anna Goodson

2017 Emma Hintzen


2017 Winner

The Wife of a Sommerlier Leaves her Husband

     by Emma Hintzen



I think you know why I’m leaving.

I’d call you an alcoholic,

but I’m well aware that

it isn’t about drinking, since

you spit most of it out

into the little silver buckets

that litter every surface of the house.

Besides, no barstool bum

has the same dedication

to his Jack as you do to your

Napa Valley reds.


It’s partly my fault.

I was the one who wanted

to register for the decanter,

and it was me who bought

the aerator that you asked for

for your 33rd birthday.

I didn’t mind at first.

I thought it would be nice

if when we went out

at least one of us could

make sense of the wine list,

but that’s all.


I didn’t know that this

harmless hobby would evolve into

classes and flashcards and


new Somm friends and

a new Somm job,

late Somm nights and

tipsy Somm weekends. You’re

swishing and spitting

and swishing again

while I sit alone on our couch.

How could I foresee your

blind tasting despair

when you call it Rhine Valley but

turns out it’s Bordeaux?

How could I know you’d

build a sturdy Somm wall of

green glass bricks

and grape-stained mortar?


I just can’t stay here,

knowing that I don’t measure up

to the pure wooden crates of

long-necked bottles,

full-bodied mistresses you keep

at exactly 55 degrees.

You call them lively,

vivacious, velvety, elegant.

You breathe them in,

furrow your brow,

whirl them around.


You sip and smile, absorbed...


I ache for a fraction of

the focus you award to them.

Ask me why I’ve turned cloudy!

Let’s argue about my tannin thoughts

and my acidic looks you ignore.

Tell me that I’ve faded from the

star-bright woman you married!

Call me nutty, oaky, smoky,

call me pruny, tinny, tired,

call me anything!

I’m not from an exotic,

climatically ideal region

in southern France

but even now

I’d follow you there

if it meant you’d look at me just once

with half the happiness

you normally reserve for

Alsatian Riesling;


But we both know you won’t,

so I’m going to go.

I’ll put it in terms

that you’ll understand:


You and Me, vintage 2012.

Immensely inviting at first

with aromas of fresh violets,

worn leather, new carpet.

Starts sweet but slowly

darkens with tones of cold chicken,

dusty suitcase, fading Pine-Sol.

Bitter and dry at the finish.



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