Sean Doyle, Raleigh | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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Sean Doyle, Raleigh

Runner-up

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Sean Doyle's poem started out as a "humorous piece based on a bad haircut." His family had just arrived in North Carolina, and he was trying to make a good impression in his new job. Initially an exercise to assuage his own frustration at the terrible trim, "Designs by Elouise" changed as Doyle delved deeper. The small shop and its proprietor became his true subject and the poem's tone shifted dramatically from the comedic to the quietly tragic "ashtrays filled with pennies," tape-marked photographs and vacant drying chairs. "In the end," says Luis Rodriguez, "a sadness envelopes the reader through images rather than direct statement."

Doyle's attraction to the intersection between comedy and tragedy may stem from his chief role model, Pablo Neruda, whose theory of "impure" poetry often brought onions, underwear, barber shops and body parts under the same poetic roof as love, death, and the oppression of the Chilean people. Doyle says he discovered Neruda during his senior year in college, and reading Neruda taught him to enjoy reading poetry in general. Along with the Chilean poet's works, Doyle claims he has read books "by all but a handful of the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature," and he cites Zorba The Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis, and I and Thou, by Martin Buber, as other favorites.

A native of Delaware, Doyle moved to North Carolina in December with his wife and three children. He works as a telecommunications attorney in Raleigh.

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