Saturday, 29 March 2014

Cha "Void" Poetry Contest - winners

Thank you to all the poets who sent work to Cha's "Void" Poetry contest. Judges Daryl Yam and Tammy Ho Lai-Ming have selected the following eight poems as the finalists. Please scroll down to read the poets' biographies and their commentaries on the poems as well as Yam's comments on the winning pieces. All eight poems are published in Issue No. 23 (the belated Sixth Anniversary Issue) of the journal, out in June 2014. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our patron from London, UK who generously donated the cash prizes.


"Where the Red Stone Crumbles" by Catherine Edmunds

Catherine Edmunds on "Where the Red Stone Crumbles": The idea for "Where the Red Stone Crumbles" came from a visit with other members of Wear Valley Writers to the archaeological dig at Binchester Roman Fort, a mile or so from where I live. Previous generations had robbed much out—columns used as pit props in the local mine; cut stone and altars used to build walls and even churches. The cow’s skulls at the foot of a doorway remain a mystery—as does the identity of the tiny baby’s skeleton found just outside the walls of the compound. My father was a keen amateur archaeologist, so I grew up fascinated with such ancient remains and the stories behind them. The gaps in our knowledge intrigue and inspire and as a writer, I naturally want to fill them with words; with poems. [Read "Where the Red Stone Crumbles" here.]

Bio: Writer Catherine Edmunds cut-cut-cuts the words until she is left with poems; distillations of story compacted into reflective shapes.

"A Long, Long Time Ago" by Richard L. Provencher

Richard L. Provencher on "A Long, Long Time Ago": I am a young almost 71 year person, and find my thirst for writing poems stronger than ever. I wish to gobble up everything within sight and give it a voice. As a former Home for Aged Administrator, I adopted 174 moms and dads who became my spiritual mentors. I see through their eyes and feel their hearts and my memories are their lives relived. I become the older lad looking through the window, observing activity within eyesight. The man in the poem becomes that young boy once again, fishing and needing love and attention. He misses those moments in the twilight of his life. [Read "A Long, Long Time Ago here.]

Bio: Richard L. Provencher believes poetry is a global adventure in a land without borders. Everything around him is his canvas.  

"Going Back to the Island" by Arlene Yandug  

Arlene Yandug on "Going Back to the Island": The poem which is a part of a collection on memory as meaning-making reenacts the ruptures of my remembrance of a beautiful island called Camiguin. Lying off the southern part of the Philippines, this pearl-shaped island is where my grandmother lived and where I spent my childhood summers. Instead of presenting my memory linearly, I let sense impressions and snatches of conversations override the structure of the poem. Through this fragmentedness, I want to effect a kind of circularity that invites readers to read into the poem and fill in the gaps of a story aching for completion in the mind. [Read "Going Back to the Island" here.]

Bio: Arlene Yandug writes poems, paints landscapes, crafts origami and bead accessories.  


|| "The City Park" by Maj Ikle ||  

Maj Ikle on "The City Park": "The City Park" is a poem about how the green places in cities are not there for the benefit of animals or people really. Many kinds of animals are killed by the mowers that keep the grass from growing and the crows are there to collect the frog limbs or snail entrails. The runners are virtually not even there and dogs are not free to roam or socialise either they must poo as fast as possible to fall in line with someone's work schedule. In London the plane trees are sterile and so "dry" or unable to reproduce themselves and even the sky is pockmarked by planes. This for me were some fragments that served to reveal the 'wired up jaws' the alienation of mother nature. [Read "The City Park" here.]

Bio: Maj Ikle is a dyke writer who now lives in remote rural west Wales as part of a women’s community. 

|| "Drafts" by Hao Guang Tse || 

Hao Guang Tse on "Drafts": "Drafts" was written as a meta-reflection on the difficulty of writing and the hysterics that can accompany any creative endeavour. Like the soldiers in the poem, my words circle around themselves again and again; I've tried to make the first, second and so on lines of each stanza sonically similar to those in previous stanzas. "Drafts" is thus both the wind and the discarded drafts of a piece of work. I guess the bigger question for me would be how these seeming dead ends can be made productive, just as how becoming lost can be a way of finding yourself again, and how voids might still signify. And, of course, I still feel the urge to revise the poem. [Read "Drafts" here.]

Bio: Hao Guang Tse's poetry is in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Prairie Schooner, Softblow and Third Coast. His chapbook is hyperlinkage (Math Paper Press 2013).

|| "Full" by Leondrea Tan ||

Leondrea Tan on "Full": "Full" seeks to present emptiness not as a lack of feeling, but a feeling that, like all others, can overwhelm and take over one's senses. It is minimal, for I believe that excessive language will take away the essence of the poem. This poem presents the difficulty of expression when there is no expressible thoughts left, just a feeling of emptiness. [Read "Full" here.]

Bio: Leondrea Tan is an aspiring writer currently studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. 

|| "Aphasia" by Amit Shankar Saha || 

Amit Shankar Saha on "Aphasia": My poem "Aphasia" is born out of a personal experience of not being able to pursue formal higher education in the field of Literature during my formative years because of family issues. The trauma of not being able to fulfill my passion due to an extrinsic cause despite having the merit and opportunity for doing so made me withdraw in myself. This created a void or emptiness in my life and a pronounced symptom of it was aphasia or gradual speechlessness. It seemed that as I am not conversing and sharing words with my peer group it is useless to speak if not necessary. Creative writing became the predominant mode of expression for me. This condition became akin to the state of subalternity where the subaltern is not allowed to speak what she wants to speak or the way she wants to speak. Years later when family issues abated, I went back to pursue my passion and I had to reinvent my confidence despite the handicap of the loss of fluency in verbal communication. The poem expresses these sentiments with literary echoes. [Read "Aphasia" here.]

Bio: Amit Shankar Saha is an academic researcher and a creative writer. He has a PhD in English from Calcutta University.  

|| "No More Space for the Pain" by Richard L. Provencher ||

Richard L. Provencher on "No More Space for the Pain": During my early stroke recovery in various hospital beds, I lay immersed within memories which sustained me during critical times. It is true, when the end appears near, one’s past life becomes a beacon of remembrance. I have such a kinship with the outdoors, and spent much time tenting and fishing year round. My father said I might grow into a tree if I was not careful. During my critical moments, outdoor images became living symbols and I thrived in their presence. My ending sounded a little ominous since passing was that close on several occasions. Now I have recovered quite well from my leaking aneurysm. [Read "No More Space for the Pain" here.]

Bio: Richard L. Provencher believes poetry is a global adventure in a land without borders. Everything around him is his canvas.  


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