MFA Poetry Student Wins Robert Raymond Scholarship for Diversity

Mark Perkins Receives $1000 Scholarship

MFA Poetry Student Wins Robert Raymond Scholarship for Diversity
Martheaus (Mark) Perkins

Martheaus (Mark) Perkins, a first-year MFA poetry student who graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX, is this year's recipient of the $1000 Robert Raymond Scholarship.

Mark's application was selected in a round of blind judging late last semester. Judges were Claudia Cabello Hutt, Associate Professor with dual appointments in Women and Gender Studies and the Philosophy Department at Mason (whose research focuses on modern Latin America with emphasis on transnational/transatlantic networks of writers and intellectuals, gender studies, and queer theory) and Robbie Maakestad (MFA Nonfiction, '17), Associate Professor of Writing at Point Loma Nazarene University (who recently launched an MA program in writing at Point Loma and teaches courses such as Diverse Voices in American Literature, Literature and Culture, and Writing In the Community).

Professor Cabello called Mark's submission material "highly original, evocative, and nuanced poetry."

"The writer shows great range in form, tone, and subject matter," she said. "I loved the 'Optometry with Momma' poem; it was sincere and humorous."

Both judges remarked how difficult it was to render their decision given the quality of all the applicants' statements and creative work. The abovementioned poem appears at the end of this article.

"The Robert Raymond Scholarship has helped students like me since 2017, writers who don't come from much and whose voices have not been historically celebrated," Mark said. "Much love to my Mason community, the judges, and Roz Gann for supporting this scholarship."

The Robert Raymond Scholarship Fund was established in 2017 as a means to provide some additional support to a new MFA student of marginalized identity. To work toward further equity and transparency, students self-identify and apply for the scholarship with the intention that this process offers space for broader definitions of “marginalization” and “marginalized communities,” and therefore makes this scholarship even more inclusive, just, and intersectional. The scholarship was started by Robert Raymond's daughter, Dr. Rosalind Raymond Gann, who taught at George Mason and was a long-time student in the MFA program. Her father was a self-avowed socialist during the McCarthy era who instilled in Roz curiosity, empathy, and concern for equality.

This year's award marks the first time a poetry student has received the scholarship. MFA students and alumni who have received the Raymond Scholarship are

Sofia Puente-Lay (2017 fiction)
Alexandra Ruiz (2018 nonfiction)
Andrew J. White (2019 fiction)
Myles Poydras (2020 nonfiction)
Chelsea Lebron (2021 fiction)
Jaime Goh (2022 fiction)