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Festival of Readers: Student Awards

The Festival of Readers (FoR) launched two new student poetry prizes this Fall, FoR the Page and FoR the Stage. The finalists read their poems at the festival, including on the cavernous stage of Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Everybody who saw them read was blown away by their talent, poise, and sharply written poems. Congratulations to all the finalists, and especially Rea Kelly (FoR the Page winner) and Nadia Formisano (For the Stage winner).The Sound is delighted to be able to share the poems that won and two by finalists in the contest.

— Gregory Betts

SUSAN, SHE WALKS: BY REA KELLY

She walks in unfinished circles
looking for the pair of lost glasses
with a chip in the corner
hiding in the open of a rotating house
that spins her hair from its root
we gave her a chain
that secures her vision round her withering neck
the metal noose she keeps forgetting
to put on in the morning
yet she sleeps at night
atop the yellowed mattress cover pressed thin
by her frail body
beside the man with the missing teeth
and balding head
who doesn’t sleep
for a shard of glass keeps poking him
in the night

A BODY  WORTH LIVING IN: BY ANNAMARIA LAVECCHIA

If my body is a home then why do I run away every time someone approaches the door?
Why do i continue to hide within the basement behind my rib cage and under long sleeved baggy sweaters,
I look in the mirror and all i see is flaws i cannot look away,
When i see myself i see tragedy filled with scars, imperfections and pain,
I don’t know what to do.
I burn down this house every time the drinks burn down my throat and another stranger meets my body,
My home is broken. The walls are too high and i am the only one there,
I run away and do not want to come back yet here i am.
I am a stranger in my own home and i am alone,
I try to keep myself busy and smile so others remain unworried but every smile i send is a cry for help,
We call this a house but it is not a home. Just yet.
I am trying to grow a garden to make this home beautiful but its not that simple
I planted the seeds, i am renovating, i want to invite people in but it is not that simple,
I am growing and so is this house,
Its no longer going to be a place where my depression resides on the right side of my bed and my stress on the left,
It will no longer be burnt down but built up,
I want to make this home beautiful again and i will not stop trying until the flowers grow back and i am me again.

THE FIVE STAGES: BY NADIA FORMISANO

Nuh-uh. No. This can’t be true.
Hear what they’re saying? Oh what did you do?
The teachers all dare us to take it on light,
There’s a guy almost smiling- he’s in on it, right?
I always knew you got yourself into trouble,
That’s why I’d come running, be there on the double.
Something like this I’d have gotten a call
But now all I feel is my stomach fall.
When I came over, asked “are you okay?”
You jumped out of your skin and you sent me away.
Then behind my back I felt it creep,
The feeling that you were in too deep.
But seriously, what the hell were you thinking?
With all those drugs and all that drinking?
You’re a teenager, I understand.
You have fun with your friends and hang out with a band.
Yet I’d still expect things to be under control.
From someone so concerned about honour roll.
I would have thought you’d stop to consider
What your mom would be doing and who’d be with her.
It was her, you know, that opened the door;
Spent five minutes screaming, probably more.
She still hasn’t stopped, I don’t really think
Now she warns other parents : “Pay attention, don’t blink!
Because then if they’re gone you’re forced to see
That life will go on, though it ended for me.”
And what about us that you left behind?
Do you think we’re ok? Do you think we don’t mind?
We all stare at your space
With a blank tearful face
Because “empty” is not how we would describe
The place of a kid who knew how to survive.
Now we all have to, there’s no choice.
‘Cause the one who once sat there has no voice.
It should have been me who was there that day
You know I’ll still do it if you find a way.
Call up the guys, tell ‘em to take me instead.
Don’t worry about it, I’ll make my bed.
Or maybe have someone deserving go down,
The dealers you knew won’t make anyone frown.
Now I ain’t seen the light in two or three days
Just getting some water feels like a haze
And my dad keeps on saying something like “shower”
But just getting undressed takes what feels like an hour.
I can’t even name what it is you took
Keep trying to find it but I just can’t look.
Just something about you being gone
Makes all of these days seem terribly drawn.
Tomorrow I know that I’ll have to go out
Join a big crowd of people milling about
Some of them there, no doubt, to make sure
That the body they shot is all safe and secure.
They’ll send you off, and then so will I
Choking and crying my last goodbye
For now I fear we’ve reached the end
Of my loving, stupid, dear best friend.

MY VOICE: BY JENNIKA McINTOSH

hearing my voice, like an angel,
envelopes me in sweet love and peace,
and as I speak, I know these vibrations saved me,
the beat of my heart, and the melody of it’s words, saves me.
This is my melody, to me it sounds like footprints being left,
because they say that a journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step, a single word, a single breath.
Yet some people condemn their voices as not worthy to be heard,
their thoughts blurred, words slurred, belittled as unnecessary,
as if all the important things have already been said,
but what about the countless lives lost to gun shots in the head,
trigger pulled by the body that now lays dead.
maybe words could have helped then bleed tears instead of blood.
If we were not meant to speak we would not be given so much material.
There is so much to say, yet so much is unsaid.
my heart is crying, but to you it might just sound like i’m rhyming
no, I’m telling a story, because i am now free,
no more shackles at my feet, see the words that bound me ‘you are not allowed to speak’
have lost all substance in me.
They say that everything is matter it holds weight, takes up space
don’t you know that words are matter what you say matters
see when i was younger every swear word echoed through the bedroom walls,
I heard all the whispers down the halls, words can burden, but to me, in a world of negativity trying to make my voice like theirs, as if they can force me to say something that i don’t mean, instead of meaning what i say, i had to stand up straight. build walls of positive words, build steps into staircases to guide me through life.
I was a lonely child,I talked to myself a lot, I was taught by a good girl what friendship meant,
but that relationship also taught me that all good things must come to an end.
It’s hard to keep going in a battle when you think that you’re fighting alone
maybe if someone told me that i wasn’t alone from the start things would have been different
i had to tell myself that,now if i get a scratch on my knee or a scar on my face
if you tell i’ll be okay it won’t change the pain. but when i tell myself i’ll be okay, i know i’m okay.
I am a black bird, I will soar and sing my song,
Now coated in black led, ink bleeding from the paper i wrote these words on and into your heads, do not forget
what I have just said. Don’t let your voice be anything but an outlet of your heart and mind, where your body and soul intertwine. I am my voice, my voice is me. And there isn’t any other way I’d rather it be.
psalms 45 reads My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips

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