The staff of Barely South Review is pleased to announce the first place winner of the 2018 Norton Girault Literary Prize in Poetry is Rochelle Potkar for her poem, “To Daraza.” The 2018 honorable mention is awarded to Liz Robbins for her poem, “And Life Grants My Wish.” You can find both poems along with many other wonderful works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction in our forthcoming Fall 2018 issue of Barely South Review in October.
We would like to extend a special thank you to our judge, Luisa A. Igloria, for her time in reading our submissions and selecting our winners. Please see her comments on the first place and honorable mention below.
First Place: “To Daraza”
This poem takes readers on the Thar Express through a tapestry of stops, from the “Zero-point station– / final point of immigration…” through towns where travelers wait in freezing queues for visas. The speaker’s destination is Daraza, birthplace and shrine of Sufi poet Sachal Sarmast or Sachu; once a regal state, now a village outside of Pakistan. Traveling in fits and starts and often stalled “in this train for the poor” where “[m]any don’t fill forms or know to signature,” the speaker reads lines from Sachu’s verses. But the magic that happens does not come with arrival at the imagined mecca; rather, it is in the poem’s plain and unadorned but generous accounting of everyone else on the train, each with his or her own reasons for pilgrimage:
A married daughter who misses chow mein from Hyderabad, India.
A childless Bhilwara millworker travelling to see his nieces.
A Kashmiri shawl merchant visiting his father’s grave.
An Indore jeweler’s parents live on both sides.
A Bollywood hopeful who loves India, more than her parents.
A Nalanda tailor adopted by an Indian uncle for a better life.
A clerk from Palanpur…
Rochelle Potkar reminds us that epiphanies exist in “the explicit march of reminiscence,/ or just plain exaltation: a levitation.” And more, that the condition of both search and fulfillment is unceasing, as in her paraphrase of Sachu: “If I interpret love for all times, a hundred resurrections will pass; and yet my commentary will not end.”
Honorable Mention: “And Life Grants My Wish”
In this taut poem, the poet skillfully overlays lyric and narrative threads into the same braid. In just a few lines, she charts the hot arcs of longing felt similarly by both mother and daughter at the juncture of their youth and sexual awakening: “I recall my mother in her forties/ saying how great the teen years…/ Now I stand where she once/ did, searching for the path back…/” And now [that] she looks back from the ledge of having “…grown/ so good at adulthood, [she has] nothing/ to confess.” It is at this precise hinge, this volta in the poem, that the speaker unbuckles herself from the safety or complacency implied in being able to say that becoming an adult is the state of having seen or done it all. She declares herself open again to life’s wrecking ball and pendulum swing: “Help me find trouble/ again, so that I may recover/ from it.” The cigarettes, the beer, the young men in trees are gone—but life itself remains the most alluring and dangerous lover of all.
The 2018 NG Prize judge is LUISA A. IGLORIA, who is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of the chapbooks Haori(Tea & Tattered Pages Press, 2017), Check & Balance (Moria Press/Locofo Chaps, 2017), and Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015); plus the full length works Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015. www.luisaigloria.com
COMPETITION RULES AND REQUIREMENTS
• Entries must be sent electronically through Submittable
• Reading fee: $10.00 US dollars
• This international prize competition is open to all writers who write in English, except MFA Creative Writing students at Old Dominion University. No translated works will be accepted.
• All submissions must be original and previously unpublished (print, blog, or web publications included).
• Format and Manuscript Length: A clean, typewritten or computer-processed (12 point font, double-spaced, one-inch margins all around) copy of the entry must be submitted (up to 1,000 words).
• Entry must be paginated with no identifying author information on the manuscript pages.
• Entrants may submit more than once to the competition, as long as an entry fee of $10 accompanies each individual submission.
• Electronic Submission deadline is Midnight, April 1, 2018; results announced in May.
• In the event that the judge does not deem any submissions worthy of the prize, Barely South Review reserves the right to extend the call for manuscripts or to cancel the award in a given year.
The 2017 Norton Girault Literary Prize in Nonfiction: