Theme: Reminisces & Memories from the past
Overall Poetry Winner:
“Life In Time” By Rachel Pawling — United States.
Time, the catalyst of an unbound reserve.
Infinite for all that lives within the world.
Time the very definition of existence.
Enveloping all within its grasps. A guided vessel,
Impressing towards the inevitable final destination.
Youth flourish towards the unbiased future it offers,
Old wisely reminisce of the past it has so judgingly recorded.
Presiding over all,
Colliding into the ever-existing present.
Time, has lay hold of me.
Constantly running the clock,
Praying for those fleeting moments.
Breathless, life altering,
A cosmic shock of fated love, or utter despair.
Time as it stands is a symphony.
By itself, it seems simple and trite.
Time is precarious, precious, and apparent.
Nonetheless its composition creates the melody of life.
Time, is the author. Offering reflection.
Reminiscing in fortitude.
Attentive to sensibility.
Accounting for the deepening of my soul.
Fires igniting from the depth of desires whispered.
Longing to remember it all,
Gloriousness without error of mistake.
Carrying me through obscurity.
If time has left me any choice, it is in the sentiment of it.
Time, an aspiration. Meeting myself in memories.
Bestowing clarity to the uncertain future.
Choosing not to succumb to fear.
Reflections of past joys,
Evident as perseverance in times of sorrow.
Watching unbiased retribution against the pain caused.
Victorious cries of hope give strength to my destiny.
Limitlessly I press forward,
Leaving in my wake, an impression of my time well spent.
Thus, I live.
- “Hope’s Walk” By Anthony McMillan (United States).
- “Dreams” By Saima Qureshi (Pakistan).
- “When I Can Breathe” By Flo Au (China).
- “Take A Wise Decision” By Tshering Wangchuk (Bhutan).
- “Two Faces Measure One Stranger” By Lorena Ivanković (Croatia).
Overall Short Story Winner
“Rakish Bird” By Cody Outcast — China.
Here I stand on a crossroad telegraph pole right beside Etretat Street, France, and this is the last time I would step on a telegraph pole …
I stand erect, letting the faint wind slap against my recumbent forehead. I’m a robin with fluffy sunset glow plume and natural unrestrained embroidered on my eyelids. Staring ahead from the top in the morning is my personal hobby, for it fits my poetic view of the world.
And this morning is no exception, the pastel mountain provides a dramatic backdrop for my penetration into the morning breeze. Cars below go bumping around as the blue horizon uplifts into a halt. Creaks from the branches fumble behind, and the girls are asking me out again. Just gotta relish that my sharp eyes glance far and long the way. Now they all fly towards me, with constant chatters poking out: they envy my ruddy beak and my askew back. Say my fluffy feathers have chaste lustre, say my claws are polished, and admire my arc. Describe the grim is like a drapery veiling my cheeks, say the eyes are so alluring that they quail in shame. One would snuggle up to me just to snatch a scent of my perfumed floating hair that falls about. She exclaims, it’s a cascade of orange water, rippling and shining brightly. She also says I’m perfect.
But I’m not, and nowhere near. I’m not perfect, and would rather shed every label they’ve given me off my skin. Never am I worthy of the name “perfect robin” they all begrudge. I’m petite and I’m wretched. The worst part of all, the reason I always reject to play, is not that I’m noble nor rakish enough to look down upon everyone else. It’s that my right leg is significantly longer than my left leg. This shockwave of a difference would make everyone view me differently. They would laugh at me, make jokes about me, and shout that I’m queer but all I want to be is a normal individual. Having this shameful little secret almost breaks down my life. I can’t hang out with friends, I can’t reunite with family, and I’m basically swept over by solitude. Tears swimming as I say this, accompanied are only a lifetime of aphorisms, pithy sayings that are meant to assuage my fear of one day being found out about my secret. Anyone who takes their time to squint their eyes will easily find that out, so I had to not clip my wings to hide my defect. The way I walk isn’t the handsome walk they talk about, only me trying to retract my right leg as I walk, life hasn’t been so great.
Look, the boys are playing hide and seek, outstretching their wings at will. I can hear the joy radiating from the other side, every chirp nudging me with a sense of quilt. Listen, the girls are singing, every sweet, melodic voice sinking me deeper into the sea of loneliness. I can see the faults of my own ancestors shaking in their eyes. The wails of their utter disappointment flow through the current of my vein. I can’t do this no more. There is no solace in rearranging language to make a different word tell the same lie. I’ve grown weary of telling myself lies that I may one day begin to believe. I’m done hearing false narratives about me and allowing them to fester. From now on, I’m going to be my true self! I’m going to show them who I really am! That’s it, I’m going to do it, this will be the turning point for me! I will no more hide in the shadow! I will no more wear the mask that was put on by others! Confident as I stick out my long right leg and place the claws on the second layer of the electric wire below. Blazing fire burning for me, it is the greatest spark of my life!
- “Where Is Grandpa?” By Manaly Talukdar (India).
- “Cracked Frog” By Mahesh Nair (United States).
- “Untitled” By Else Copeland (Untitled).
- “Looking For Differences In Similarities” By Xueli A. Abbing (Netherlands).
- “Mandate” By Mariam Olajide (Nigeria).
Overall Poetry Winner
In The Eyes Of Poverty” By Joel Aparecio Bernasor from The Philippines.
Every silver and bronze nickels
fell in the corroded cans,
implies a prolonged
struggle in the world,
Every cents given
signifies a remedy for
a hungry stomach
and relieve of pain
Every nickel thrown
presage a salvation for
a hanging and dying soul
from the verge of death,
Every nickel tossed
means a dream realized
fill the stomach, ease the pain
and a peaceful night
in the chaotic horizon.
Every nickel handed
is an imagery of inequality,
a landscape of poverty
in the world filled with injustice.
Overall Short story Winner
“You Don’t Own Me” By Karina Bimanova from Kazakhstan.
I come from a world where women are not considered serious presidential candidates. Abortion is illegal in some parts of the world where I live. I survive on this planet by fighting for women’s and human rights! for my rights!
My heart is breaking because I know that women in Turkmenistan are not allowed to have cosmetic surgery, have their nails and eyelashes done, or even dye their hair. People in the twenty-first century are developing artificial intelligence in robots and planning to live on Mars, but gender inequality between men and women remains an issue in our society.
“And don’t tell me what to do.”
“Don’t tell me what to say.”
I’m exhausted from answering questions like, “When do you plan to marry?” and “When do you plan to have children?” Never! Because I am a woman, I am not required to get married, have children, or live as others expect of me. It is entirely up to me whether or not I have gained weight. I will get a tattoo if I want to. I will have an abortion if I decide not to keep the baby. It is my business what I will do with my body.
Women were only recently allowed to serve in Saudi Arabia’s armed forces. Women can also work as advocates, pilots, and even police officers since 2013. I am thankful that all women do not give up and continue to fight for equal rights!
In light of recent events, a large number of people have come out to protest with banners against the abortion ban. We are women, and we will win the battle against gender inequality!
Overall Poetry Winner
“My Little Star” By Imari Van Der Walt from South Africa
I wish you could see
How bright you shine in your darkness
And how I drowned in sandess
The day you decided
To set yourself free
if only I had told you before
you walked out the door
you were enough and more
I could of helped you trough the war
Sacrificing your life
Just so they could feel a little guilt
With your body in a coffin
And your heart with you mother
Leaving your soul to the sky
Oo my deer you were only thirteen
Not nearly old enough to die
You failed to see the big picture
That all this would have passed
Your future could of been so bright
Right here on earth
Overall Short story Winner
“Agnes Richter” By Emma Louise Foyster from the United Kingdom.
I’ve stitched identity, woven rivers into coarse, unforgiving fabric. Cotton is hard to come by but I’ve saved strands over years, pulling colourful tendrils from fraying escapees. I started with my asylum number, forgetting I was baptised Agnes. Semblances of humanity have worn dry, flaked off in darkened cells.
I’m an inventive seamstress. My lifetime’s work: ebb and wane of a spindle needle, following the bent of thoughts, weaving its lifetime path, reclaiming deadened parts of my soul. Sepia memories, askance and thwarted, are righted: now upwards, proudly tall. My most prized line: ‘I plunge headlong into disaster’ – my motif, replacing corporeal years of perceived madness.
I’m famous. A once lowly seamstress, teemed with so-called “paranoia”, has her own place in history like a bookmark holding a gripping page.
Money, hard-earned in America, troubled me. I couldn’t find enough cubby holes to hide it. My father and brothers lusted: drunken Elysium dripped from seduced lips as ravenous, fable wolves. They failed me, exposing my pallid, hunchback frame to institutional clutches.
My family line is awkward, disjointed were my stitched lines when I thought on my father or brothers. My needle plunged deeper, becoming ensnared and tangled within the meaty flesh of fabric beneath. I’m no witch but perhaps there is a hint of the supernatural about me. My stitched jacket, a voodoo doll, constructed as a payback for all the indiscretions and hurts against me. It was never designed or intended to be so but possibly this is a view, or credible stance to take of me.
Twenty-six years locked and keyed in Hubertusburg Asylum. I curse them, haunt greedy shadows, chanting “583” sitting atop gilded coins, tapping restless needles. They writhe, sweat like The Three Little Pigs, trapped in perpetual, boiling-pot hell.
For me, justice is served. My jacket is a museum artefact. Visit! You’ll see glints of silvery needles where spirit lingers amidst prized stitching. It’s part of the Prinzhorn Collection, No 743.
Numbers ghost but with this one, I’m freed.
I dream in a listless, intangible and ephemeral realm of all the places I never visited in life: marvel at what I can do now that my hunchback and hobbled frame no longer confine me to a corporeal world. I long to return to America, the country that made me great, paved a golden path (to some degree). At least there I was paid, not fully seen, but paid well for my industry – the dramatic twists and turns of my needle earned me a smiling fortune. I should have stayed, keeping my money tightly pressed to corsets, not a dangling offering for my butchering brethren at home in Germany.
I have learnt from my misdemeanours.
Overall Poetry Winner
“The Broken Scissors” By Tshering Wangchuk
Once there was a ramshackled hut
All walls covered with dark smut
Cobwebbed windows opened but
Its door always remained shut.
People feared to walk close by
Believed a dead witch didn’t die
But on a full moon night she did fly
And one could hear the babies cry.
A group of jolly kids wanted to play
Building houses of mud and clay
As their thoughts were deep and astray
The witch appeared and took them away.
Inside a jute sack, they were taken
Their sorrowful pleas were all forsaken
But a little girl’s hope was unshaken
For she had scissors, half broken.
The witch went placing the sack
On an enormous bloody metal rack
The girl cut open freeing their pack
All dashed without looking back.
Overall Short Story Winner
“My Everything of Nothing” By Charlyz Pia Bognot
Here I am… sitting in the abyss of darkness. There is nothing except the cold breeze of air and myself. I wonder, how come I am here? How come I am alone? How come no one is with me?
As I opened my eyes, the blue sky welcomed me. The clouds are dancing with the wind. The wind is touching my skin. The stars are smiling at me. The moon is staring at me. How wonderful! How majestic this sight can be! But something is missing or perhaps someone is missing. How can my sight be filled with the sky, clouds, wind, stars, and moon yet I feel so empty? I feel so lost.
I can feel him. It was all because of him. I am always fond of the magic beyond the universe. The mystery behind everything. The everything of nothing. I am in love with letters and castles only to realize that it was all about him. I am one with the universe for the universe is one with him.
I fear goodbyes. I fear being apart from someone and it was also all because of him. My heart breaks into pieces imagining all of it. It is because our story is still ongoing. It is because we are separated before that right now seems to be the perfect timing. To be one. To be together once again.
I miss him all the time. I miss him every single time that he is not around. Every single time that I kept my emotions in tact since no one was ready to listen. That’s why the only thing that I can do is to cry. To weep for my missing heart. To be heartbroken for I am not yet complete.
It was all with me. All throughout my life, I have it within me. The passion, the love for everything, the feeling of him, and him. It was because I was chosen. Chosen by someone special. I am the living past, the current present, and the bright future. I am the life born from before. I am the embodiment of the strongest love. A love that is strong enough to break the barrier of time. I was changed. I was transfigured because when I opened my eyes to see the majestic view of the night, I witnessed the truth of the reincarnated self of mine.
Here I was. Waiting for the other half of my soul. Waiting for his coming. Yes, it is pitch black. Yes, it is dark. But I love everything of the nothing that I have. I love what I have because I know that sooner or later, he will come to me. That I’ll be with him. Him who is the gift of the universe, him who is the treasure of time, him who traveled long beyond generations to be with me. Him who is a part of me.