CBC/CantoMundo/Iraqui Poet in Exile – Poetry News Roundup November 23rd

Today on My Poetic Side we have two news articles on the winners of poetry prizes. We also take a look at the Iraqi poet who has been living in exile since he was sentenced to death in 1996.

2017 CBC Poetry Prize Winner

The winner of the 2017 CBC poetry prize has been announced; Alessandra Naccarato has won this year’s prize for her poem “Postcards for my Sister”.

The inspiration for the poem comes from the strong women in the poet’s life, especially her grandmother who she has very fond memories of. She wanted the poem to be a celebration of those people who are the backbone of their communities, often behind the limelight but no less involved.

“Postcards for my Sister” will be published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, appearing in the December edition. The prize also brings with it a cheque for $6,000 and a 10-day residency in writing at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

CantoMundo Poetry Prize

Founded in 2009, the CantoMundo Poetry prize is awarded to Latina/o poets, it was founded to help support and cultivate their poetry. This year’s winner is Ángel Garcí, who won the prize for his collection of poetry “Teeth Never Sleep”.  As part of the prize his collection will be published in autumn 2018 by Arkansas Press.

Garcia, who was born in Texas is the son of Mexican immigrants, he is currently studying for a doctorate at the University of Nebraska. He has already had poetry published in a number of publications and has fellowships from CantoMundo and the Vermont Studio Centre amongst others.

The Collection deals with both the themes of ethnicity and gender, whilst mourning the loss of home, family and innocence all with the cycle of violence that is so prevalent in society.

The Poet in Exile

Whilst many poets suffer for their art, poet Adnan al-Sayegh has paid a very heavy price indeed. Born in 1955 in Iraq, the poet has been living in London since 2004 when he was exiled. He had previously been exiled to Jordan and the Lebanon.

His poetry denounces both the devastation of war and the horrors of living under a dictatorship and in 1996 he was sentenced to death because of his words. Uruk’s Anthem, his poem which is over 500 words long, and one of the longest poems ever to be written in the history of Arabic poetry led to him taking refuge in Sweden.

As a boy Adnan wrote his first poem on the subject of his sick father, it brought his mother to tears, and it was this reaction that spurred him to continue with poetry, despite the dangers of his subject matter and the environment he lived in he felt compelled to write what he felt, eventually leading to his exile. If anything, the connections he has made with fellow poets during his exile have made him stronger.

Adnan who will be at the Ó Bheal’s Winter Warmer Weekend in Cork, reading from his work, takes solace that in his case the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

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