CBC Literary Prizes

To ride an art horse by Manahil Bandukwala

Manahil Bandukwala has made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for To ride an art horse.

2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Manahil Bandukwala is a writer and visual artist. (Rishi Sharma)

Manahil Bandukwala has made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for To ride an art horse.

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. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The shortlist will be announced on Nov. 14, 2019. The winner will be announced on Nov. 21, 2019.

About Manahil

Manahil Bandukwala is a Pakistani writer and visual artist. She is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll and Pipe Rose. In 2019, she won Room's emerging writer award and the Lilian I. Found Poetry Award. Recent work has appeared in Prism International, Bywords and Looseleaf. She is currently working on a literary-visual project, Reth aur Reghistan, with Nimra Bandukwala, which can be found on sculpturalstorytelling.com. She is on the editorial board of Canthius, a feminist literary and arts magazine.

Entry in five-ish words

A pocket of teenage defiance.

The poem's source of inspiration

"I was reading an article about how women in Pakistan often have to sit perched on motorcycles because it would be 'improper' to sit straddling the bike like men do. Around the same time, [Ontario premier] Doug Ford started implementing his cuts to public education. I started thinking about the two in relation to each other and wondered about the common threads between the two. I remembered being in school in Karachi, in Pakistan, and how art class in O Levels was one of the few spaces where teachers didn't lecture us about the 'properness' of our uniforms. Instead, we could focus on what we were there for. Having teachers who promoted that sort of environment was so necessary for those small seeds of resistance. I connected the two streams of current political dialogue with a memory, and out came the poem."

First lines

At sixteen we straddled benches
                       six inches wide
        & long, one end an adjustable incline,

placed wooden boards, sheets of fresh paper
            taped down. Twelve of us
                          in a third floor room

four days a week. Here we ditched our dupattas
        kept them white & crisp & ready
to cover chests when the hour was up.

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