Alumni awarded 2017 Meringoff Prize in Poetry

By Shane Donglasan

Poet Brendan Rabon
Poet Brendan Rabon

For the past few years, poet Brendan Rabon ‘03 has been drawn to historical subjects that he says “challenge and elicit his sympathies.”

One of those historical figures, British politician William Gladstone, was the inspiration behind a poem that won Rabon the 2017 Meringoff Prize in Poetry.

“It’s a most immense honor and one of my greatest achievements,” Rabon said. “It feels like a stride forward.”

The poem is a dramatic monologue in the voice of British politician William Gladstone and explores the mentality of grappling with the death of his political adversary, Benjamin Disraeli, a rivalry that defined his career.

Rabon received $1,000, and his poem “Gladstone” was published in the Fall 2018 issue of Literary Matters. It’s his first published poem.

The Meringoff Prizes are awarded annually by the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers for works in poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Poetry submissions were judged by acclaimed poet Rachel Hadas.

In November, he was also invited to read his poem at the 22nd Annual ALSCW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Rabon, who graduated in 2008, studied classics at New College where he grounded himself in the traditions of modernists such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

“One the the beauties of New College is getting to dive as much as you wish into your interests,” he said.

Rabon mentioned one class in particular helped him prepare for the poetry he writes today.

“It was a course taught by Nova Myhill focused on Renaissance lyric poetry, where I spent a whole semester imitating those poets,” he said. “Along with David Rohrbacher’s classes, those experiences helped form the crucible of work that’s brought me where I am. I’ll always be indebted to New College in a very special way.”

– Shane Donglasan is the marketing writer/project coordinator at New College of Florida.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre bay front campus is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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