CBC Literary Prizes

Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih by Alycia Pirmohamed

Alycia Pirmohamed won 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for her collection of poems, Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih.

2019 CBC Poetry Prize winner

Alycia Pirmohamed is a Calgary poet based in Scotland. (Tim Phillips)

Alycia Pirmohamed won the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize for Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih.

She will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have her work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

You can read Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation, Prairie Storm and Tasbih below.


Love Poem with Elk and Punctuation

To taste water
on the surface of a mirror —

to love, even briefly, the elk of your own tongue.

We become a myth that will cleave in the middle.

I admire spooling lotus after lotus after.
Fragment of my body:

brown edges. The whorl of a question mark
and you? Night's quiet exclaim.

We become a bridge that crosses the chasm.

It takes a moon or two, a slivering, to chapter.
I look at the fringe

and watch evening kick her feet right through.

We, too, become hoofs of light and feel our way
around tenderness —

this is a dream and we are the ruminants in it.

I want to know how you move
from polygon to speckle, rectangle to unravel.

In the water, I stretch out until I am lagoon
and you are the coral

at my toes,
until I am the lotus that blossoms after!

Prairie Storm

We shoo away the hornet
as she lands on a grain of saffron rice.

Outside, the sky sparks like a wet nerve.
It must be lonely to storm,

long stems of water scattering sidelong
in a suddenly vacant wide.

The rain knows how to fall in Gujarati.
Afterward, bellies full

of clove heads and yolk, we spill
into the yard and read in dark rivers.

How quickly the landscape mothers
those stray tears,

bushels of mustard anchoring the roots
of an indivisible language.

We marvel at how something
that was carried such a long distance

can fill the prairies like a vase,
while we, ourselves, pour and pour.

Tasbih

Walk  into  the  turquoise  bead  thirty-three  times.  This
is  a  ritual  like  rinsing  the  darkdark  of  your  hair.  The
everglade  birds  rok  rok  as  they  flicker  in  and  out  of
the wet. How thirsty are you / how holy? In this reef,
you will learn how to make. Which is to say, you will
nod bend hinge drink and repeat. Listen: the answer is
in  how  the  egret  rok  roks  once  more.  To  weave  is  to
look  inward  at  each  stage,  then  burgeon  again.  Here,
you will learn how to symmetry, how to pray, how to
god.


Alycia Pirmohamed on The Homestretch

Read the other finalists

About Alycia Pirmohamed

Alycia Pirmohamed is a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, where she is studying figurative homelands in poetry written by second-generation immigrant writers. She is the author of Faces that Fled the Wind and a recent recipient of the Calgary Arts Development's project grant program. Alycia received her MFA from the University of Oregon.

About the CBC Poetry Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The remaining finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

In Partnership With

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.