Contributor: Pheobe Yin Piece
From 2019, BMSA has been teaming up with Western Libraries to offer all Western undergraduate students the chance to express themselves outside of their academic achievements. The Budding Writers Contest focuses on one specific theme a year, and writers can submit either a work of poetry or a short story based on their interpretation of the prompt. All winners will have their submissions published in Scholarship@Western (https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/) and, if that’s not tempting enough, there are cash prizes awarded to winning recipients.
This year, the theme was “something you wish was talked about more,” and our undergraduates delivered. Through their words, these talented students invited us to reflect and strive for progression, while simultaneously appreciating the power of writing. Choosing the winners is always a difficult decision for the judges, but the following pieces, in particular, stood out and caught their attention. Here are the winners of this year’s Budding Writers Contest. Make sure to take a look at their incredible submissions and we encourage you to participate in the contest in the upcoming year!
First place: Jacqueline Chen – Exhaustion, Carved into Bone
“Alarmingly all you seem to do these days is
scroll through twitter
Like maybe keeping up
With the present will stop the future
from mowing you down”
According to Jacqueline, this is “A free-verse poem about the pandemic and the weariness felt over a year of quarantine.”
Jacqueline’s raw and honest poem describes the emotions and experiences that many have, but may not be brave enough to share. It captures the feelings of repetitiveness and hopelessness caused by the pandemic—the days blending together, aimlessly scrolling through social media, and becoming more and more worn out.
Read the poem here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/4/
Runner-up: Ananya Singh – Welcome to a Woman’s World
“I am a woman. I am flawed yet I am self-sufficient
I am not perfect, but I am in no way deficient.”
According to Ananya, “This poem centers around the expectations from a woman in a patriarchal society governed by hegemonic masculinity. It is written from her perspective, an 18 year-old, heterosexual, cis-woman of color. The poem delves into the implied yet unspoken expectations/norms (which are often contrasting and impossible to meet/abide by) that many women face in modern society. There is a special emphasis on highlighting the archaic and unrealistic nature of patriarchal beliefs and how they aim to simplify and objectify women from the male gaze.
Ananya candidly describes the many challenges that women have faced, still face, and will unfortunately (but likely) continue to face. She acknowledges the ways in which society dismisses, judges, and criticizes women regardless of their choices.
Read the poem here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/5/
Runner-up: Ameena Abid – I used to be immortal
“I used to think my mind had no edges,
my imagination spanning outward in all directions,
but these days I can feel the constraint of my skull
keeping my thoughts together.”
According to Ameena, “This poem was inspired by the song "I Am the Cosmos" by Chris Bell. This is a poem about fragility and longing. In essence, it's a song about wanting to be able to discuss the existential fears that are difficult to talk about in the daylight.”
Ameena explores the sense of defeat we may feel when we realize there are more problems in the world than we can fix. It's a poem about growing up and becoming human--realizing that ultimately, although we are mortal, we can still build a life in the world around us.
Read the poem here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/7/
First place: Roshan Sivarajah – Grazing in the Grass
“His fingers grip the wheel with purpose as if each hand is gripping a bar of the cage that he’s breaking through. He is a force to be reckoned with, like a bullet splitting through the oldest tree in the forest.”
Making reference to the lyrics from this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKQ47h6S6p4&ab_channel=TheFriendsofDistinction-Topic, Roshan tells a story of adventure, freedom, and revival grounded by a wistful and nostalgic pulse. No spoilers, you’ll have to read it yourself.
Read the story here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/1/
Runner-up: Ripon Singh – The Story of Winston Kapoor or The Story of All Men and People of Colour: A Case of Tragic Pessimism of The Modern Times
“Winston was the child prodigy. He was told he would have a promising career. And now, a year had passed by. A year of discouraging unemployment and dreadful resentment.”
According to Ripon, “This short story is very near and dear to my heart as it revolves around my experiences in looking for jobs after graduating college. The theme is how mental health in men is often not discussed and how racial discrimination affects people of colour.”
Ripon’s piece involves a feeling that university students know all too well: uncertainty about life after graduation. Through the story of Winston Kapoor, Ripon explains the challenges that people of colour face in the workplace, the pressure placed on men to always keep a strong and brave facade, and how damaging it can be.
Read the story here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/2/
Runner-up: Garggie Talukdar – A Letter Left Unsent (I Want to Tell You)
“There’s so much I want to tell you. So much of me you have yet to learn, so much of me I want to share, so much that we both have yet to discover. But I am unable to.”
In this short story, Garggie authentically depicts the struggles of people who fight silent battles. The story balances the want for support with the fear of being judged, being misunderstood, and being a burden.
Read the story here: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/budding_writers_contest_2021/3/
If you were inspired by the pieces of the winners of the Budding Writer’s Contest and want a chance to enter your own work in a contest, then your wish is BMSA’s command. We’ve partnered with Western Libraries once again for the 2022 BMessays Contest (get it? bmESSAY, bmSA… it’s funny, right?)
This contest is open to all Western undergraduate science students, and this year’s theme is health equity. Whether you’re looking to have a career in healthcare or you’ve had personal experience with health equity issues, this is an important topic that we can never talk about enough. You can either use this contest as an opportunity to express your point of view through an expository essay, or a chance to gain knowledge and become more informed!
The first-place winner and the two runner-ups will have the honour of having their pieces published in Scholarship@Western, and will receive $250 and $50 Visa gift cards, respectively. This is the perfect opportunity to add to your coffee or textbook fund while sharing or expanding your knowledge on a meaningful subject!
The deadline for submission is March 11th at 11:59 pm. Click on this link for more details: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/bmessays_writing_contest_2022/, or contact Saniyah Qureshi, BMSA co-VP Communications (email@example.com) or Ronnie Du, BMSA co-VP Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions!