Photo credit: Kayi Wong
We wanted to make sure the writers amongst our community are fully inspired this warm and muggy season for some writing, perhaps in preparation for our annual poetry contest that’s now open, so we invited poet and artist Manahil Bandukwala to share some of her favourite poetry with us. The writer, who is both a Room contributor (you can read one of her beautiful poems published in Room 41.2 Changing Language here) and our 2019 Emerging Writer Award recipient, selected twenty poems she loves and was generous enough to also share why. You can find and read the poems (all hyperlinked below) online right now, on your phone, at home, away from the heat and any direct sunlight. Happy reading!
Manahil Bandukwala's Favourite Poems You Can Read Online Now:
“Bluebirds on the Farm” by Leah Maclean-Evans in Canthius
Leah Maclean-Evans has a series of poems about farming video games on Canthius. My favourite in this series is “Bluebirds on the Farm.” I’ve heard her read the lines, “They say you can’t use fifty-two / pieces of driftwood / to make a redhead fall in love with you” a few times now, and I laugh each time.
“Horner Hybridity” from Hereditary Blue (Anstruther Press, 2019) by Oubah Osman
“Horner Hybridity” appears in Oubah Osman’s chapbook, Hereditary Blue, from Anstruther Press. This poem pulses with the interior and exterior, with bodies and land.
“The Line You Approach Infinitely” by Laboni Islam in Wildness
Laboni Islam conjures a beautiful journey of monarch butterflies travelling south to Mexico. Her lines, “monarchs weighing less than paperclips / vault into a cathedral of wings,” set a scene of grandness from such small creatures.
“Schizotheism” by Sanna Wani in Nuance
Sanna Wani describes a relationship with Allah that is entirely personal and so different from what I was taught worshipping Allah was supposed to be like. As a bonus, my sister, Nimra Bandukwala, did the artwork that accompanies this piece.
“TANGIBILITY” by Kara Petrovic in Train Poetry Journal
Kara Petrovic beautiful poem creates a feeling of not-feeling through ghosts, pills, and mashed potatoes.
“Asami Writes to Korra for Three Years” by Natalie Wee in Wildness
Natalie Wee writes with a tenderness that, like the bird in “Asami Writes to Korra for Three Years,” carries the airiness of flying and the weight of being planted on the ground.
“Utero” by Rudrapriya Rathore in Minola Review
“The thing about maternity is that it’s a circle.” In this beautiful piece, Rudrapriya Rathore writes how cycles of limitations for women continue to perpetuate through the acts of mothers.
“forgetting urdu” by Zehra Naqvi in Room Magazine
Zehra Naqvi shared her winning poem, “forgetting urdu,” from Room Magazine’s 2016 poetry contest on her website. She writes “there is amnesia in my fingers as they trace / my ancestor’s verses right to left.”
“antimnemonics is a love language, too” by Chimedum Ohaegbu in The /tƐmz/ Review
Chimedum Ohaegbu’s “antimnemonics is a love language, too” is haunting. Ohaegbu highlights the cycle of domestic violence as the poem’s speaker recalls not only abuse that has happened, but dives into a future where it is going to happen again.
“how do you tell someone you’ve written a poem about them” by Natalie Lim in Honey & Lime Lit
The line “a thought: I should not treat poems like subtweets” made me laugh out loud the first time I read it. The poem goes from funny to frantic to slowly calming down as Lim commands emotion through language and line breaks.
“When the Wolves Appear” by Alycia Pirmohamed in Tupelo Quarterly
I love poems about language, and Alycia Pirmohamed’s image of wolves calling out in Gujarati is surreal and terrifying. The poem cycles between fearing the wolves / wanting them and knowing / not knowing the language.
“DNA” by Carol Rose GoldenEagle in carte blanche
Carol Rose GoldenEagle writes about a mother sharing stories with her daughter in “DNA.” She writes, “Our stories flow through our strong bloodline / like a meandering river / into an ocean of courage.”
“bloodseed” by Faith Arkorful in Peach Mag
In “bloodseed,” we follow the poem’s speaker after the murder of a cousin. Faith Arkorful writes powerful lines like “Cousin found a gun. I find, in the hollow of a lily, an / echo that sounds like: your cousin might have deserved to die.”
“Otters” by Ashley Hynd in Arc Poetry Magazine
Ashley Hynd presents the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers through movement down the river. She writes, “to breathe in and out together / open our eyes to see each-other / zaagi’idiwin.”
“Lebreton Flats Spring Day” by Allison Armstrong in L'Éphémère Review
Take a walk in Ottawa in the spring thaw, looking for things now buried under the snow all winter. This is the path Allison Armstrong takes us through in “Lebreton Flats Spring Day.”
“Pyrite” by Terese Mason Pierre in Cosmonauts Avenue
“Pyrite” is a journey of finding and wanting to shape something that is not necessarily yours to shape. Terese Mason Pierre writes, “What I really wanted was / to see my reflection in you.”
“two weeks ago a man died” by nina jane drystek in Chaudiere Books
nina jane drystek writes a melancholic poem in which the speaker muses on home and life.
Marcela Huerta’s winning poem in CV2’s 2-day poem contest is bilingual, lyrical, introspective, and everything I love in a poem.
“Girl Hours” by Sofia Samatar in Stone Telling
In a poem structured like an essay, Sofia Samatar starts with notes about Henrietta Swan Leavitt, one of the young women employed as a human computer at the Harvard College Observatory. “Girl Hours” moves through a conclusion, a body, and ends with a breathless introduction.
“half abecedarian for almo” by Safia Elhillo in Drunk in a Midnight Choir
I wrote an entire essay in Arc Poetry Magazine about how much I love this poem. Each line is like a day in which the speaker’s youngest brother makes it home.
Manahil Bandukwala is the author of two chapbooks, Paper Doll (Anstruther Press, 2019) and Pipe Rose (battleaxe press, 2018). Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, including PRISM, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Puritan, Room, The Poetry Annals, Parentheses Journal, Coven Editions, Bywords, and other places. She was the 2019 winner of Room Magazine’s Emerging Writer Award, and won the Lilian I. Found Award in 2019 for her poem, “Things I have learned from laundry.” She is on the editorial team of Canthius. See her work on Twitter at @manaaaahil, Instagram at @bandukwali, or on her website.