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By Yara Ajeeb, Sara Boubekri, Yaani Dinu Mahapatuna, Rei Stephen Sison March 5, 2020

Second Annual S.P.A.C.E. Writing Competition

In 2019-2020, S.P.A.C.E held its second annual writing competition. Students from all disciplines across Dawson College were invited to submit writing that offered a personal interpretation of this year’s theme, TECHNIQUE. The submissions were judged by an interdisciplinary jury—Liam Lachance (Faculty, English), Gesche Peters (Faculty, History), and Robert Kavanagh (retired Academic Dean). Entries were evaluated according to originality and depth of thought, style, and connection to the theme. The winners received gift certificates from Argo Bookstore, and the winners and honourable mentions have been published and highlighted in the S.P.A.C.E. web magazine. All participants in the competition had the opportunity to be mentored by S.P.A.C.E faculty and to submit their work for possible publication in the S.P.A.C.E web magazine. 

Below are the winners as well as the honourable mentions in the prose and poetry categories (click on the links to access the full texts).

Yaani Dinu Mahapatuna: Shell-ShockedFirst Prize, Prose

“This piece sets out in a novel set of images, appearing to be a story about food in different lands and the migration related thereto. This includes some detailed well-written accounts of subtle tastes and cultural differences—all apparently quite special in themselves. Its theme, however, is that hidden beyond and behind all these luxurious delicacies lies the ground of their value—human technique:  the process, the skill and the practice of transformation.The prose is light, coherent, nuanced at just the right moments, and firm in its clarity. The hint of humour at the end helps add force to the underlying idea.”

“An interesting and innovative tale that reflects a deep realization of the culture shock that is familiar to so many. The lament of one culture lost is tempered by the acceptance, even embrace of the new reality.  This story is familiar to any immigrant and echoes the sudden but always profound flashbacks of food longings that are so much more than a simple craving.”

“Tackles issues of migration and identity through the challenge of oyster shucking, a struggle with technique that mirrors the greater quest to find one's home.”


Yara Ajeeb: Teach Me HowFirst Prize, Poetry

“A clever play on technique and the process of writing, how the past can lead and overwhelm our art.”

“Not just students are struggling to find the line between the desire to express deep and genuine feelings and the chaotic form in which they may present themselves and the need to conform to accepted means of communication.  The piece cleverly speaks to the tug-and-pull of wanting to express authentic thought while aspiring to impart that thought clearly.”

“From rebellious refusal of words to the artful taming of emotion, this piece captures elements in a crafting process: touching emotion and recollection, skill and lessons learned, gentleness of maturation in a world allowing dance and rules.  In well-balanced and clear language, the piece outlines the author’s movement and growth. Simultaneously, it leads the reader to sense and see the undercurrent of how a shaking pen can shift to a form of literature, and it provides details for reflection, which the reader can follow.”


Sara Boubekri: Le Venin Des HommesHonourable Mention

“A dramatic take on the sadly ordinary story of violent confrontation.  The location, the injury, the characters are secondary to the absurdity of ongoing civil wars and the pain and loss that they perpetrate.”

“Detailed prose on the brutal subject of war, a beginning that has the reader wanting more of the story.”

“The emotional tone of this piece holds clearly and steadfastly to the recognition that human technique serves war, hatred and lack of shame, and ultimately the annihilation of human life itself. The text is descriptive, well integrated and directional—leading to the desperate conclusion so aptly enunciated in the title—and knowing it took technique and high order skill to do it. Succinct, focused and deliberate.”


Rei Stephen Sison: Dusk & DawnHonourable Mention

“An inspirational piece that also connects with the theme of technique: flipping a perspective on the value of life as we ‘flip’ the poem.”

“Same words, same phrases, different order, different worlds: This piece offers a unique way to understand and appreciate one’s self as both ‘unreachable expectations’ and as ‘a beautiful gift’. The perspectives on these words and their meanings are transformed completely in the poem, by using a technique of reversing the reading order of the poem. It appears that nothing else changes but because of the order of reading itself—same words, same phrases—everything changes at the level of meaning and human values. To sense the breadth of the piece, one must read every word and in the prescribed order. This tightness of text shows a rigour and fullness of thought. There is also a certain delight as the order of reading changes, somewhat unexpected and like a gift.”

“The balance between wish and reality must be familiar to everyone and the author strikes a chord with this struggle between optimism and pessimism.  To keep wriggling is the positive message and to persevere in the face of naysayers is something people need to be constantly reminded of.”

About the author

Yara Ajeeb is a 2nd year student in the ALC program. 

Sara Boubekri is a 1st year student in the Enriched Science program. 

Yaani Dinu Mahapatuna is a first year Liberal Arts student at Dawson College. She loves history, literature and food. Especially so when the three are combined.

Rei Stephen Sison is a student in General Social Science. 

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