Poetry Contest Winners
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.