2019 Writing Contest Winners

On Thursday, November 29, the winners of the 2018 Common Read Writing Contest, Madra Furman, Israel Tucker, and Jordan Temchack, were awarded with books autographed by author Mohsin Hamid. The contest focused on themes of displacement from this year’s Common Read selections, Hamid’s Exit West.

2019 Common Read Writing Contest Award Winners

Watching the World

by Madra Furman

After Warsan Shire’s “Ugly”

Watching the world

I open my mouth
and the scent of daughters
of sons drowning,
pour down my neck.

I try spitting them out,
but inside me,
these lives

The Body Crossing Borders

By Israel Tucker

My feet scrape across the ground, Crunching sand between my toes,
The bottoms of my shoes long worn away

My eyes water from the dirt kicked up From thousands of feet shuffling
My heart pounding
Trying to beat from my chest, Anticipation a hammer Against my ribcage

My shoulders throb
From the weight of my backpack That couldn’t hold my whole life Inside

My hands grasp for touch, A soft pillow
Or warm water
Or my daughter’s soft hair

My tongue betrays me, Too dry to speak,
But our thoughts still reach
Our ears, even without our voices

They Just Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To

by Jordan Temchack

Sometimes I drive down a road and I see
a litter of seven or eight calico kittens dash
in front of my ‘87 Chevy S-10,
I feel my foot press firmly upon the accelerator;
considering my father, carefully
my foot slides to the left easing everything to a stop.

Sometimes I drive down a road and I smell
marijuana smoke, and hear my father’s hoarse laughter
bounce off the Bronco’s unlined ceiling
against the cacophony of screaming,
distorted guitars and drums,
tires on gravel
feel the lack of suspension ...

Sometimes I drive down a road and I feel
a tongue grace the back of my ear
feel smooth black skin
glide across my neck
hear my father's voice
telling me to remain calm,
and grind my way back down
through the gears, as my father throws
the passenger door of the Volkswagen Fox
open, and runs in the rear-view mirror.