Po­etry Con­test Win­ners

MAR­I­LYN DUMONT

Room Magazine - - BAKER -

Our 2016 po­etry con­test was judged by Mar­i­lyn Dumont. Here’s how she de­scribes the win­ning works:

Zehra Naqvi chal­lenges colo­nial sup­pres­sion of her mother tongue in the very lan­guage which dis­placed Urdu, and does it in a way that en­tices the reader into lan­guage just as a new speaker of English may be se­duced into adopt­ing English at the ex­pense of their own mother tongue, as a re­sult of the priv­i­leg­ing of English as the glob­ally dom­i­nant eco­nomic lan­guage. In prose line fash­ion, the poem’s nar­ra­tor guides the reader through the his­tory of their mother tongue’s dis­place­ment with the ease of a sleep­walker trac­ing their way through an old night­mare where pa­per and ink and foreign lan­guage sounds en­act vi­o­lence against the very body they in­habit.

“for­get­ting urdu” com­bines vi­o­lent images of “bay­o­nets and bleach” with lyric images of “the bows and masts of nastaleeq” which the speaker re­grets they have lost to “am­ne­sia,” as a re­sult of the colo­nial in­ter­ven­tion of English.

Irene Wilder’s “Lilith” is rich with evoca­tive im­agery such as “the way the cleft of a val­ley wel­comes the river,” and is ripe with an­i­mated verbs that in­ject vi­tal­ity into the poem. Verbs such as “scored,” “hushes,” “sizzles and cracks like an ac­etate song,” evoke a land­scape brim­ming with life, all swirling around equally vi­brant fe­male bod­ies, “mon­strous,” yet “Soft as the sum­mer wheat.” It’s a strong evo­ca­tion of the fem­i­nine earth.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to our win­ners, and thank you to ev­ery­one who en­tered. Read “for­get­ting urdu” and “Lilith” next, and read our hon­ourable men­tion, “Bo­real Selkie” by brit grif­fin over at room­magazine.com.

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