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FINDING HOME IN LONELINESS

English-language poem by international authors (14–18), judged by poet Raymond Antrobus

 

Winner

"Cactus with City in the Background" by Asim Abu Shakra

the fastest way to set yourself on fire
is by lighting your home.
my english teacher says,
before you learn british accent, imagine you're one. 


zakiyya sits on her veranda every day,
munching strange languages,
she brings her father's letters to her nose,
to smell  home off it


In the last one he had written
keifa asbahti1)TRANSLATION
keifa asbahti — How did you wake up?

every day begins with a new war,
twist your tongue this way, a little bit,
your hair should be longer,
they do that here.


three men walk into her room in one night,
the other day, she does not know enough words
to tell them to stop, this language hurts her
tongue the way their thrusts bury her name


every day begins with a new war,
It's the way of those who
find home
away from home

On "Finding Home in Loneliness", judge Raymond Antrobus said:

“This striking poem, ‘Finding Home in Loneliness,’ begins with two great lines that are held together with an impressive enjambment: 'the fastest way to set yourself on fire / is by lighting your home'. To break on 'fire' and 'home', raised such a high bar for this poem that I wondered if it would sustain its quality. It did. The word 'home' appears five times, but this feels intentional, as do the uneven stanzas and line lengths, which work to unfold the images and evoke longing, wandering and loneliness. Also the speed and rhythm of the lines become a kind of spreading fire. It roars and then simmers by the end where we are left with the feeling of the speaker, despite stating to have found 'a home away from home', the sadness and pain for the 'home' that has been left continues to burn. This is serious poetic talent, and this poet must keep writing!”

The Barjeel Poetry Prize celebrates poetry, in Arabic and English, that opens a worldwide conversation with 20 selected Arab artworks from the Barjeel Art Foundation. This is one of the 12 poems that won first and second place in the inaugural Barjeel Poetry Prize 2020, judged by distinguished poets. Click here for more information about the Prize at Barjeel Art Foundation's website.

Contributor
Olajuwon Abdullah Adedokun

Born in 2004, Olajuwon Abdullah Adedokun lives in Lagos, Nigeria and writes about home and broken people. 

Footnotes:   [ + ]

1. TRANSLATION
keifa asbahti — How did you wake up?
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<span style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: adelle-sans, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #555555; color: #555555;">Born in 2004, </span><span style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: adelle-sans, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #555555; color: #555555;">Olajuwon Abdullah Adedokun</span><span style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: adelle-sans, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; caret-color: #555555; color: #555555;"> lives in Lagos, Nigeria and writes about home and broken people. </span>

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