Times Square is better known for its New Year’s Eve celebrations. But, on Feb. 13 it was the site of a different celebration as five finalists of a nationwide poetry contest read poems to their loved ones in front of hundreds of visitors and passersby on New York City’s busiest corner. One of the finalists was Rochester Institute of Technology mechanical engineering student Kyle Swift.
Swift read an original poem, One Kiss… One Love, to his girlfriend Valerie, as part of Zales Jewelers Valentine’s Day promotion. He had learned of the contest through Zales. “I am on their mailing list since I like to spoil my girlfriend! It showed up in my mailbox one day and I was like, hey, why not?” he says. Swift’s was one of more than 700 entries submitted to the company for the Profess Your Love Contest.
Zales selected five finalists, and flew them to New York City to read their poems in front of a panel of judges that included sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal (the husband-wife TV personalities and relationship experts), and Michael Somerville, Glamour magazine’s single-guy columnist, “Ask Jake.” The winner of the contest would receive an 18-carat white gold, 2-carat diamond engagement ring.
What better way to say ‘I love you’ than in one of the most recognized settings in the country and in front of thousands to hear you profess your undying love? For Swift, the chance to win a diamond engagement ring was worth reading stanzas of poetry to his beloved on one of the busiest street corners in New York City.
“It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen! There was a large crowd gathered, not to mention all the people in vehicles driving by,” Swift says. He and Valerie, both Pennsylvania natives, have a long-distance relationship as she studies psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The couple have been dating for nearly four years.
“I didn’t win the ring, but it was an absolutely amazing time nonetheless. Engineers are creative too,” says Swift—and apparently not intimidated by crowds.