Carnegie Mellon University Home

Dietrich College News

Watch a video of Claire Matway reading "Squint."

January 2012

2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards

Poetry: High School

First Place

Claire Matway,
12th grade, Pittsburgh CAPA

And it’s Uncle Steve’s house with the rough blue couches and bright lamps
and deer heads on the walls and sandwich materials
piled on the long low table in the kitchen;
it’s three dogs and a view of wintry hills and red-lit radio towers;
Christmas Eve means
five cousins sprawled on the wooden floor amidst
crumpled wrapping paper and gift cards for T.J. Maxx,
a semicircle of aunts, uncles, grandparents
leaning in from folding chairs, cycling
by age through piles of gifts. Christmas Eve means
my uncle’s best friend is standing by the tree, beer in hand,
gray stubble and plaid shirt and manly as ever
(and you will not know it by watching,
but he and my uncle are best friends in the sense that
they will never leave each other their whole lives,
that they are each other’s
arms). They will not live together
because this is rural Pennsylvania and
they would just be fags—

my uncle’s lover stands by the Christmas tree,
squinty-eyed and chuckling and then
he is next-oldest in the age cycle of
gift-unwrapping (I am picking at the tag of
a magenta velour hoodie I will never wear)
and Mama hands him a calendar for the new year,
pictures of skylines planted in its gloss and
he is surprised and brandishing his beer and laughing and
“Twenty years I’ve been coming to Christmas! This
is the first damn present I ever got!” and his squinty eyes
could almost be watery, but the room is too even or soft
with the rumble of my family talking and
“First present I get in twenty freakin’ years!” and
Christmas Eve means
my grandmother’s on the couch laughing,
picking at a candy wrapper; I am
blinking at the wrong none of us ever saw and at
the plastic-wrapped square of cardboard and skylines
that forms a different story, tucked gently
under a plaid-clad arm. Christmas Eve means
the little pile of presents that forms by his chair the following year
and the sense of “Yeah, you dumb or something? Those are yours!”

View the complete list of the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Award winners.

Stay connected with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

Other sources of Carnegie Mellon news include the university news service website and the Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.

Contact Shilo Rea, Director of Public Relations at or (412) 268-6094.


About the Quick Links

Follow the Dietrich College on Twitter and Facebook.
Sign up to receive Dietrich College News, the college's monthly e-newsletter.

  CMU, Pitt Celebrate 20 Years of Advancing Brain Research
At the end of September, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recognized neuroscience research programs at CMU and Pitt for their support of the federal BRAIN Initiative. Much of what is currently being done by both universities began 20 years ago with the launch of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). Read more Watch a video.
  Dietrich College News: September 2014
Features this month include CMU's new BrainHub initiative, social psychology and neuroscience research, alumni news, upcoming events and much more. Read Dietrich College News.
  History Course Inspires Alumnus To Reproduce Great-Grandfather's World War I Photo Album
When Dean Putney (DC'11) saw his family for Thanksgiving in 2011, his mother showed him what she thought was just a family heirloom that had been hiding in his grandmother's closet. Read more.
  Social Support: How To Thrive Through Close Relationships
In a new paper, CMU's Brooke Feeney and University of California, Santa Barbara's Nancy L. Collins detail specific interpersonal processes that explain how close relationships help individuals thrive. Read more.
  MSP Program Prepares Students For Tomorrow's Jobs
In today's economy every company is a data company. Not only are industries collecting increasing amounts of information, but businesses must analyze it to make smart data-driven decisions. Read more.
  Center for the Neural Basis of Cogntion Celebrates 20 Years
A joint project between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh devoted to investigating the neural mechanisms that give rise to human cognitive abilities, the CNBC ill celebrate a rich history and bright future. Learn more.
  Four Dietrich College Graduates Receive Fulbright Awards
From addressing clean water shortages in urban Mexican communities to teaching English in Brazil, Germany, Montenegro and Turkey, five recent CMU graduates – four from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences – will be making a global impact through this year’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Read more.
  Mapping the Future of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University — which has a long history of the humanities and social sciences collaborating with other fields to solve problems — and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences held the first Pittsburgh-area discussion of the "Heart of the Matter" report and its implications for improving education and creating a sustainable global society. Read more.   Watch the video.  View photos.


H&SS Home | Admissions | Advising & Careers | Departments & Programs | Research | Computing & Libraries | News | Alumni

Site Index | About H&SS | Message from the Dean


Carnegie Mellon University
College of Humanities & Social Sciences | 5000 Forbes Avenue | Baker Hall 154 | Pittsburgh, PA 15213 | (412) 268-2830