Congratulations to English major Cayden Clark-Johnson, who was recently honored for his creative writing at the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity 2023 Showcase!

Cayden Clark-Johnson was awarded "Best in Show: Written Work" at CURC 2023 at CSU.

CURC is CSU’s annual undergraduate research and creativity symposium. Organized by the Office for Undergraduate Research & Artistry, this year’s in-person showcase took place on Thursday, April 20th in the University Center for the Arts at CSU. An awards ceremony followed on April 27th at the Lory Student Center, in which all winners were announced and celebrated.

OURA’s mission is to serve as a resource at Colorado State University to promote and expand experiential learning for undergraduate students through research, artistic, and other creative experiences with skilled mentors.

"Silver Dagger" a poem by Cayden Clark-Johnson in Yellow Planet
“Silver Dagger” a poem by Cayden Clark-Johnson in Yellow Planet

Clark-Johnson, a junior studying English Education, was awarded Best in Show: Written Work for his poetry collection Yellow Planet.


About Yellow Planet

Yellow Planet is something I’ve been working on since October of 2022, but it didn’t start out as a collection,” Clark-Johnson said. Though he’d heard of CURC before, and knew he wanted to submit his writing, he wasn’t sure what form his final submission would take. “I didn’t know what to submit, but then I sort of got on this roll, and after I wrote two or three really great poems, I started thinking about ways I could connect them and expand into a full manuscript.”

That manuscript materialized as Yellow Planet, a collection Clark-Johnson describes as “an exploration of the color yellow and the places that I’ve noticed it in my life over the past few months.”

"Military Wife" a poem by Cayden Clark-Johnson
“Military Wife” a poem by Cayden Clark-Johnson in Yellow Planet

Throughout the work, he mentions the color yellow at least once in each of the 19 poems in the collection. “Yellow stars, yellow thread, yellow mist, yellow pumpkins—even a yellow panther!” he detailed. As a result, the collection moves like a meditation, a zeroing-in on the strange presence the color has had in Clark-Johnson’s life and art. “In the final, titular poem, I tried to create an origin for that yellow.”

On attending CURC for the first time, Clark-Johnson said the experience was a lot of fun.

“The awards banquet was amazing. It was so cool to see everyone win their awards and hear about all the research topics that everyone did! It was crazy impressive.”

Way to go, Cayden—we’re so proud of all your hard work! Thank you to the College of Liberal Arts and the judges for lifting up our students’ research and artistry, and recognizing their accomplishments.

Looking for more photos? See the full gallery of CURC winners here.