IILT Poetry Prize Winning Poems

Below are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winning poems from the recent IILT Poetry Prize  competition. The standard of all of the more than 30 entries was extremely high, and the judges had a very difficult time choosing the winning poems.



1st Prize


A bird caught on a child’s eyelash
On a busy evening
And black rain falling

The rain does not look like my mother’s plaits
Does not look like my grandfather’s date palm
Does not look like a child laughing
Does not look like water

Rain like gunpowder
Black like my heart’s sky

Terrified horses clatter
Dogs bark
with mindless joy

And rain…

So roared the miserable palm

The bird flies
It lands
Here and there
In a time before this one
When the sky was screeching
And gunpowder made a red lake

Flying, piling

And smoke…

The bird caught in the child’s lash
The emaciated child
And a cage hung with a thread of rain.

The child’s screech
The thread cut
The cage falls down
And the rain dies…..

Hazim, Iraq



2nd Prize

On being an animal

I am a lonely bird,
A bird with no mother,
In the middle of the rainforest
Singing to the emptiness.

How did I get so lost?
A bird should not be lonely!
A bird should be in the midst of flock!
A bird should have other to sing to!

It's not a good life
With my stepfather
Who always has me under pressure.
It's a life without joy.

I'm a pathetic dog chasing after a man
If I do right I get a few scraps
If I do badly......
Well you know what happens to dogs!

I'm a mule.
I serve a master
Night and day
Monsoon or heatwave
A mule with no straw to lie down
I must face every damned change in the weather.
I'm a frog tumbling down a well
Shrieking for help.
Still no one comes to my aid.

I wish I had wings again.
I wish I was a butterfly
Flying freely.

Sophea, Cambodia


3rd Prize

On not being afraid nor ashamed of childhood

I began by imitating.
  Then I played at the river with the other children .
  I thought water was a mirror
  because I saw my image.
  And I also thought water was flat
  then when I dived into water
  water began dragging me down.
  The sun seemed to be like a round hot coal
  One height with the mountain
  and I could easily catch it.
  I used to climb higher trees than some birds
  and then always falling down
  Death was only like sleeping
  because the next day I would awake as usual
  I wasn’t ashamed of talking nonsense
  or doing something silly
  I could eat everything
  and I couldn’t understand
  because I was ignorant.
  I wasn’t threatened.
  Although I was stupid and ignorant
  I was being loved,
given fondness and well treated.

Francisco, Angola

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