Literary Prizes·CBC Literary Prizes

(M)other by Sanita Fejzić

Sanita Fejzić has made the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for (M)other.

2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist

Sanita Fejzić is a poet, writer and playwright based in Ottawa. (E.L. Photography)

Sanita Fejzić made the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize shortlist for (M)other.

She will receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and will have her work published on CBC Books.

The 2018 CBC Poetry Prize winner was Natalie Lim for Arrhythmia.

You can read (M)other below.


You were born past midnight

          after the alarm bell cut the night in two


                        at 10.3 pounds

                                        our big gift.

The doctor, a man whose head resembles the colour of a blank sheet of paper

            wearing brand name Hunter boots of the same frosted blush

lifted you up as if with holy hands, in prayer,

            "Born on Christmas day and he hath no father."

His words, spoken in a fake British accent betrayed an old mentality.

On your birth certificate my name fills the space of "father/other parent."

            I am your other mother, your (m)other, but there was only room for one on the page.

In kindergarten at the Waldorf school

             where the Prime Minister's children go to learn

two older boys            zoomed            across   the hallway      like      arrows

 "Haha—t'as pas de papa!"

             Their words hit me in the chest:                      ha!      ha!                  pa!                  pa!      pa!

They darted by                        pa!      papa!

When I asked the teacher to talk to them she said, "They're just children."

            So are you, my son.

A year later, the principal of your new school suggested

            I put you in karate

so you could have a "proper father figure"               

                                                               "a sensei"                   

                                                                                                     "a man."

I try not to get tired of explaining.

No: there is no father.

It's not that hard.

You only have mothers.

Anonymous sperm donor, yes.

No: no: no: my brother is absolutely not like your father. He is your uncle.   

Just like how other people's uncles are not their fathers. (Do I really need to explain this?)

At night, we compare beauty marks in the mirror

            our bodies punctuated by little islands of beautiful singularities 

we find one in common on our chin—this random physical trait that unites us, mother & child.

           And even though you don't have my genes or DNA

my sun            you have          all my love      dedication        delicate attention 

            always & always into infinity

and even though

                on your birth certificate my name fills the space of "father/other parent"

                        I am your other mother, your (m)other

the one that's learning to be light

              to laugh when others look for a father

like that time I made you giggle at Toys R Us

            holding up a mask of Padmé Amidala to my face

                        exhaling in a deeply performative tone:

                                                                                    "I Am Your (M)other."

Read the other finalists

About Sanita Fejzić

Sanita Fejzić is an award-winning poet, writer and playwright based in Ottawa. Her novella, Psychomachia, Latin for "battle of the soul," was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Award and the ReLit Award. Her first play, The Blissful State of Surrender, a dramatic comedy about a Bosnian-Canadian family was workshopped by the National Arts Centre in March 2018. Miro la girafe, her first children's story, is forthcoming in 2018. Fejzić is currently completing a PhD in cultural studies at Queen's University. Her second anthology, Dis(s)ent, was launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.