Lily Jefferson Wins Local Poetry Contest

Lily Jefferson Wins Local Poetry Contest

To open the Hippodrome’s 50th season as a beacon of culture and community in Gainesville’s downtown, Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury and directed by UF’s Ralf Remshardt, took to the stage. Fahrenheit 451’s central theme is the suppression of literary works, so the Hippodrome decided to put on a poetry contest to spotlight Gainesville’s own vibrant collection of writers. One of the select winners of this competition was Eastside senior, Lily Jefferson, focus of this edition’s student spotlight. To celebrate her success, we sat down for an interview.




As you take your seat, excited to experience whatever play you’ve gone to see,  it’s likely you’re not thinking about the numerous people involved behind the scenes in technology, management, set design, and more, all working to make sure the play runs smoothly. As a writer and manager heavily involved in the production of Eastside’s plays, Lily Jefferson, though rarely seen outside the curtain, is an integral factor in the success of each performance. While this article is focused on her success as a poet, Lily writes many short stories and plays as well. Her plays, The Art of Being a Human, The Pizza Guy, and Zooming Through have even been performed by Eastside’s troupe. She finds joy in seeing other people enjoy her work and this passion for theater is what resulted in her finding out about the Fahrenheit 451 poetry contest. When she learned that the Hippodrome was presenting a play based off of one of her favorite books, she rushed to the website to buy tickets, where she found the poetry contest. Using words from the book in a style of poem called a “found” poem, Lily wrote a chilling description of a couple who were moments from death.


As a seasoned poet, Lily has entered competitions prior to this one. However, this is the first one where her work has been presented. Lily wants to remind students that “being a writer is not easy and your work is going to be rejected many times, you just have to keep going.” Many students also find it difficult to share their work in the first place, and while Lily jumps at the chance to share her short stories and plays, she shares this sentiment when it comes to poetry, saying, “Poetry is very vulnerable and when people read my poetry it feels like they’re reading a piece of me.” But while it can be hard to share your work in the beginning, Lily reiterates that only by sharing your work can you become more comfortable with it.


Sitting down to write can be one of the biggest obstacles many authors face, however, for creative work, Lily finds what works best for her is waiting for a spark of inspiration to hit and writing as soon as it does. She is inspired by all types of art, from music to paintings and says that this inspiration “kind of remains in the backdrop of [her] work”. Another difficulty, especially for student writers, lies in separating writing on your own from writing for school assignments. Personally, Lily likes to focus on finishing school work first and then making time for anything else she wishes to write. Sometimes though, she finds herself incorporating her creative passion for writing into school work, creating unique works that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Lily encourages students to “try to push the boundaries given, because whatever rules you have to follow provide unique situations for you to think outside the box and it can be a lot of fun.”


Looking forward, Lily says she wants to, “Pursue theater, like technical design, but would also  love to have a novel of [her] own one day.” No matter what happens, she wants to continue writing as a hobby, which is great news for those of us lucky enough to have read some of her work! As a connoisseur of all types of literature, Lily would recommend 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale if you’re a fan of dystopian works. Poetry-wise, her favorite poet is Robert Frost and her favorite poem is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138. If you’re interested in checking out more of her work, follow her on instagram @lilyjeffersun.