Finalist and winner Orooj-e-Zafar performs her winning poem, ‘When Your Body Smiles’. She tied with Risham Amjad when our panel of judges which included TMS contributor and poet Ilona Yusuf and Editor-in-Chief Maryam Piracha, in addition to Assistant Fiction Editor Sauleha Kamal, and Radio DJ Yumna Haas, couldn’t decide between both performances and talent on display.
‘Voices in Verse’ is a series designed to create a platform for performance poetry and dramatic readings in Pakistan and in other parts of the world, where opportunities like these are limited. We aim to include as many styles as possible and though this particular incarnation was limited to writers under 30, we will be expanding to the country’s two other metropolises – Lahore and Karachi – before the year’s up.
The magazine’s offline activities began with creative writing workshops, expanded to word game nights, with poetry slams the latest form of engagement with the wider readership and audience. We are also looking to add an additional component in our workshops when we restart in early 2016.
You can read Orooj’s poem below. The poem is forthcoming in Slim Volume: This Body I Live In from Pankhearst (November 2015).[box title=”‘When Your Body Smiles'” style=”soft” box_color=”#9a0c0c”]
when your body smiles,
your back doesn’t need lifting from its monoamine-deprived
slouch; your nose carries its pride higher to meet the head
you’re always leaving in the clouds–
your daydreams are creamier,
waterfall-fresh out of peace.
there’s a part of you between your eyes making room
for your heartbeat; you don’t remember the last
time the curtains were drawn here.
when your body smiles, your shoulders
straighten to let your wishbones kiss
before they pressure-drop your lungs
with more chestfuls that they can take
like your first
effort; the ache to remember
what it is to be alive,
is just as beautiful today.
your eyes won’t droop with death looming behind
your head nor will sleep be running on the corner
down left to knock you out. for a while too long to be called, soon
you can swoon at your eyes not meeting
the scorch of the sun, always ready
forever destined to embrace the sky
before you can, without wincing.
your battlefield is finally at eye-level and your body
forgives the fatigue in your fingers,
kissing their effort with the tongue of acceptance
not once reminding you of where you could have been
if you were just housing a better-maintained body;
when your body smiles, the spine of your accent
braid stands taller with foreign strands still united
to protect your weary mind.
my mind is not weary today,
do you see this body convexing instead of
closing in on itself?
I am not weary today.
when my body smiles, I am waking
to a day constructing bulwarks
against me only
to prove that the day,
if never the sky, cannot