Third Annual SPACE Writing Competition
Third Annual SPACE Writing Competition
In 2020-2021, SPACE held its third 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, space s. The submissions were judged in a blind fashion by an interdisciplinary jury—Amanda Cockburn (Faculty, English), Andrea Strudensky (Faculty, English), and Lois Valliant (retired Faculty, Fine Arts). 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 SPACE web magazine and will also be invited to offer a public reading of their work towards the end of the semester. All participants in the competition had the opportunity to be mentored by SPACE faculty and to submit their work for possible publication in the SPACE web magazine.
Below are the winners as well as the honourable mentions in the prose, poetry, and essay categories (click on the links to access the full texts).
Mia Kennedy: Bricolage—First Prize, Prose
“Bricolage reconfigures and redefines spaces and places where tradition and daily activities—school, play, shopping—must be designed to measure up to 2021 Covid 19 restrictions. With palpable empathy, uncompromising clarity and strong writing, aspects of society and in particular Urban Montreal society are pieced together. Fragments that are constant yet disparate and characters that occupy varied spaces—the homeless, the lonely, the jocular—are fine-tuned and convincingly rendered with imagery that is convincing and authentic. The value of routine is amplified and modest connections, conversations, interactions in the park, market place or analysis in the virtual classroom coalesce with pathos as well as humour to shape meaningful spaces, realities and identities.”
“The sense of alienation and distance the writer experiences in learning remotely and away from teachers is palpably evoked in creative figurative language. Despite the strong sense of the narrator’s ennui born from living in a pandemic, the imagery is so rich and immediate that there is a sense of triumph of the imagination even in a space as potentially soul-numbing as online learning or working in a dep behind Plexiglas, eternally pumping hand cleanser. Just a masterful piece that is ‘timely.’ The last line about merci, merci sounding like someone begging for mercy is a surprising, lovely and moving conclusion.”
“Brilliant. Evocative. And that ending—ooufff.”
Yara Ajeeb: The Immigrant Experience—First Prize, Poetry
“I just love the movement of images - from place to place - painting a picture of the parents, the experience - like a recipe. I like the tone and the specificity of the images. How each person in the poem is filled with scent and memory. I also like ‘everyday language’ of it. I was immersed into the poem.”
“I was drawn to this poem for its use of concrete, simple imagery and the evocative sense of place this imagery creates.”
“The poet writes with confidence. Not confidence in themselves, but confidence in language.”
Benjamin Wexler: Women’s Religious Autonomy in Plautilla Nelli’s Last Supper—First Prize, Essay
“I read this essay from start to finish and was interested. I think that the idea of creating a woman’s space within the iconography of the Last Supper tradition fit really well with the SPACE theme this year.”
“Interesting subject, great points, insightful, good use of secondary sources.”
Samantha Tréville: Bus Stop Daydream—Honourable Mention, Prose
“The writer shares a compelling account of an amazing experience that takes place at a city bus stop. This mundane location is the launching pad to a magical space where the boredom of waiting for a bus ride is replaced by a journey to an incandescent universe. The writer is transported to an illuminated galaxy where ‘purple and orange meet’ and the colour produced is beyond description, where the writer wants to become one with this ‘scenic wonder’, this riveting cosmos. The encounter is brief. What is important is the juxtaposition of the mundane and the magical, and the expansive and marvelous aspects of the student’s imagination.”
“I love how this young writer grapples with the experience of the sublime, with the transient nature of beauty and time while doing something as banal as catching the bus, only to suddenly float into the sky to take big bites of the purple and orange clouds. Wonderful.”
Coco Aranya Usher: Spool of Days—Honourable Mention, Prose
“Startlingly poetic prose—full of unexpected, original and utterly apt word choices and imagery.”
“Whenever I read the last line of this piece—Blue threads tip towards the lake, / and I sit and watch shadows, wrecked, / by the lily torn moon—I got chills. This line, and the entire piece, has as much poetic force as any of the contemporary prose and poetry I love to stumble across in literary magazines. Wildly imaginative, inventive, innovative and full of feeling. A tour de force piece of writing.”
Sean Caluori: A Festering of Hidden Messages—Honourable Mention, Poetry
“The use of small spaces and big spaces and the value attached to each was a compelling organizational structure to this poem that really fit in well with the theme.”
“The subject of the poem deals with identity, gender, elusive definitions, past, present and future with convincing clarity, precision and a natural progression that reinforces the imagery configured. Spaces real or imagined, dark or a hope filled ‘galaxy with the potential to be transformed’ are invoked and given substance. The conclusion affirms the recognition of a unique place that is personally configured and a safe space.”
Wendy Lewis: Flagged—Honourable Mention, Poetry
“I liked the wild energy of this poem and felt the madness of being trapped on a track. The routines of our daily lives often form a repetitive track that pre-pandemic we were able to break up with various activities––going to a concert, a party, a coffee shop; something out of the ordinary. But the pandemic has revealed the confining space of these tracks and our need to break free of them.”
“This poem is loud and kaleidoscopic and highlights an original perspective and approach to how spaces might be navigated; imagery that simulates bravado, academic vigor and humour reveal surprising spaces. This chronicle pays homage to a variety of classic and contemporary media and events as well as calling into play faux and authentic multidisciplinary references. Real and imaginary highways demarcated by ‘massive jumbotrons’ are travelled in a cacophony of changing gears, screeching tires, bravado and reality.”
“A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Pandemic.”
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