Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize Literature Poetry

Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize – 2022

The Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize is sponsored by the English Department at CCSU. It was created by former English professor Barry Leeds to celebrate the memory of his daughter Leslie.

Winner: Nicole Moulton

Finalist: Samantha Jones

Finalist: Allison Nadeau

Judge: Professor Emeritus Steven Ostrowski

2022 Winner

Car Girl 

by Nicole Moulton

She smells like gasoline, but it’s stunning and nasty. They will stare  

like it’s their business no matter what store it is, judgment their conductor  

on the train that never stops. She dresses in long checkered patterns and tight  

orange heels, and dances through the night as if she cannot feel them. Bystanders 

turned spectators, jaws dropped spewing sneer comments or sipping gossip or probably both. 

Utterly simplistic rumors come from cotton mouthed smirks,  

they will think what they want. She licked her spoon stuffing gulps full  

of chocolate cake between her perfect rose tipped lips now covered in grime,  

because the number on the scale never wins. Is she anorexic, bulimic?  

No, she was labeled fat her whole life and decided to change that. They will  

rip you apart whether you’re covered in paint or wearing all gray. If you can’t  

change a tire you must be a girl, and if you can, you must be a car girl.

Finalists 2022

Round and Round

by Samantha Jones

My twenties is the mechanical carousel sitting on the bookshelf of my childhood bedroom

Fragile, the porcelain was intricately detailed by its creator with precise, painted strokes

And reminds me when my father sternly said I was no mistake.

The lined lightbulbs surged to life when played with

Dizzying as it wound around, the machine cranked a ballet-pink waltz

The red tented top twirls the painted horses

Like my dancing mother, orbiting me around her

The shiny sculpted stallions cast their silhouettes

Distracting from the cracked base

The paint thick and textured

Is beginning to chip with age.

Forever Winter

by Allison Nadeau

this is the blue sky at night 

deep, deep indigo 

in the Stop & Shop parking lot 

seventy degree heat lightning 

was it ever this beautiful? 


in New England we’ve got all four seasons

but nothing compares to 

the first fifty-degree day 

it’s okay,

go ahead

roll your windows down. 


I want the soaked polyester 

wet elastane 

grey sand fingers

the ocean is evidence of Christ.


I want the sun poisoning

brown blemishes littering my shoulders 

blister skin, burning skin 

nothing rolls the eyes back 

like aloe


I want to lose my ability to sleep

even silk sheets are too painful 

for this licorice flesh 

I’m only beautiful with sunburn. 


I want the hell-hot car 

leather that sears your thighs

lay me down in only a t-shirt,

there’s no scent like the summer solstice 

but I can never get over winter. 


the snow that touches down

is gone within hours 

it’s March and we’re all crying,

I want it to be warm

I want to feel warm

but it’s sleeting again tomorrow

and I’ll always be grateful. 


the sun will crawl closer again 

it forever loves me the same

but I worry

there won’t come a day in which I don’t miss the cold.

the red nose, the unbearable sensation of

a freezing car

the numbness in my hands

I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

Header Photo Credit: Daria Washington for Blue Muse Magazine

Nicole Moulton, Samantha Jones, and Allison Nadeau are all students at Central Connecticut State University.

Blue Muse Magazine is a general interest literary magazine published by the students of the English Department at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. We publish poetry, fiction, and a gamut of creative nonfiction on anything and everything the blue muse inspires us to write.

1 comment on “Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize – 2022

  1. Mary Collins

    Congrats to all three poets. I loved hearing you read your work yesterday at the awards ceremony.

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