CBC Literary Prizes

Welcome Signs by Alycia Pirmohamed

Alycia Pirmohamed has made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Welcome Signs.

2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

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

Alycia Pirmohamed has made the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize longlist for Welcome Signs.

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 Alycia

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.

Entry in five-ish words

"They" / "us" once the towers fell.

The poem's source of inspiration

"This poem is a narrative piece that questions borders and separations, and attempts to express that feeling of being in between places — which often translates to not feeling part of any place at all. It interrogates the word 'welcome' (who is welcomed, who is a guest?) and travels in two ways: physically, driving from one town to another, and also through childhood memory."

First lines

You know better than to feel welcome at anything resembling a border—
at least you do now, anyway,

as you reckon anew with the boreal ahead, dark cone after dark cone,
a hem of blue light signalling the horizon

as it peeks through the geometries. This drive will always, always,
remind you of childhood,

which, in turn, reminds you of nightfall and headlights in lieu of moons.
All of those times you sat in the front seat, just two years shy

of the recommended age, watching the bright in front of you,
comfortably settled on one side of that other border,

that other hem—complicated and imperceptible—rivering
between young girl and womanhood.

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