It’s another day, a consecutive day, and I’m writing a blog post.
Three months and sixteen days ago I came across the Heartland Review – 2018 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize, and naturally I submitted a piece. The prizes offered were $350 for First Place, $100 for Second Place and $75 for Third Place. All finalists were to be published in THR’s spring 2018 issue and invited to a special reading at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College (Kentucky) in honor of poetry month. To enter the contest, participants were to mail a $3 donation by check or money order (PayPal was an option) to The Heartland Review. The donations were to go to funding the contest, creation of the journal, and scholarships for creative writing students.
At this point I have no expectations when it comes to writing competition results or
whether my work will be accepted or rejected. I have been published numerous times, I have won first place in contests, I have been a finalist, short-listed, long-listed and downright rejected about sixty times.
This morning I woke up to an email that simply stated, “Attached are the results of our 2018 Joy Bale Boon Poetry Prize. Thank you to everyone who submitted.”
This attachment showed a list of three prize winners, three honourable mentions and sixteen finalists of which included my name.
(omg look can you see it there there there!!!)
Although I wasn’t a prize winner in this contest, I was a finalist and that is still an achievement. My poem, Hob Wa Harb, will be published in The Heartland Review’s spring 2018 issue and I will be invited to a reading in Kentucky, America! I am only one of two finalists from outside of America and I’m happy to see an Arabic titled piece on this list and amongt works of other talented writers.
Hob Wa Harb translates to Love And War. This piece was inspired by the time and location in which I first met my ‘Beautiful Man’ (see previous post). The poem merges two powerful concepts – the overwhelming sorrow and destruction from war that ripped through Lebanon and Syria after the 1920’s separating the two countries as well as the intense romance of early love. These two concepts are depicted to be reliant on one another as well as sharing a relationship of mutualism in which both intensify the other. Words like ‘smears’, ‘fragile’, ‘fight’, ‘unguarded’, ‘unsettled’, and ‘bitterness’ are used interchangeably to delve into the two concepts .The poem touches on a narrative of two Syrians finding one another in Lebanon and the intimacy that erupts between them. It also adds tension by playing on the differences between the two subjects in the poem, “And my tongue is cocoa sweetened by your accent.”
Hob Wa Harb
Lebanon 1920s spared the roof over our heads
And lovers left their mark in smears of lust
Decorating the fragile walls with honesty
Our ancestors wasted their courage on wars
So instead we fight to claim each other’s hearts
Encouraging me to the heights of Aley’s mountains
So that I fall for you at the magnitude of altitudes
And the moments our lips let generosity slip
Your unguarded eyes spill promises
And my skin beneath your unsettled breath
Contrasts with the rough wall against my back
And yet they are the same
Stories of history in the folds of our future
And my voice only ineligible whispers
And yet your hands respond by touching my soul
And my tongue is cocoa sweetened by your accent
With bitterness only tracing the word we don’t want to hear
In a place that hadn’t been given the chance for any last words
In a place that will remember our pounding hearts
Forgetting our unbalanced footsteps in the ruble ground
The way the Middle-east went out of focus
As it framed you in the centre of my being