Poets Honored at Inaugural Rabindranath Tagore Competition

By Andrew Dutfield

Award nominees, family, friends and Guild members gathered at the ArtSpace Building in Winnipeg and online June 6 to celebrate the inaugural award night of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild Rabindranath Tagore Poetry Competition.

The competition has a special emphasis on the intersections of multiple cultural heritages in verse.

After a short address, emcee and Guild President Sharon Hamilton handed the podium over to Kamal Malaker, the competition’s sponsor for the first five years. Kamal presented the Guild with a portrait of Rabindranath Tagore painted by local artist Sudip Naskar. He explained why he supports the arts and asked for the competition to carry the name of one of the world’s great poets.

Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the 1913 Nobel prize for literature for his book of poems, Gitanjali, or Offerings of Song, which was translated by Irish poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats. Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

He was prolific in many forms of human expression, from poetry, philosophy, novels, and short stories to plays, music, and painting. He was also respected as a teacher and a visionary logistician as well as for his political wisdom and curiosity in the sciences.

Lise Gaboury-Diallo, chair of the judging panel, talked about the entries, their quality, and their diversity of subject matter. Each of the honorary mentions and award winners read their work, some for the first time in front of an audience.


First Place (tie):

Nankafu Gisèle for “Symphonie de Survive”
Danie Botha for “Immigrant”

Second Place:

Jaya Brata Bose for “Green Windows”

Third Place:

Hazel Aduna for “Mother Tongue”

Honorable Mentions

  • Vindra Jain for “Diaspora”
  • Sarah Mercer for “Being Born”
  • Jennifer Tesoro for “A Grand Mother”

Many thanks to judges Samir Georges, Lise Gaboury-Diallo, Zulfqar Hyder, Sally Ito, Paul Morris, Yelani Peiris, Sandy Pool, and David Williamson. Special thanks to Nathalie Kaboha, David Williamson and Sharon for planning and coordinating the event and to other Guild members for volunteering on the day. Additional thanks to Kamal Malaker for supporting the event for the first five years and to his brother, Parimal Malaker, for sponsoring the medals, scarves, and mementos presented to the winners. And finally, a heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful poets who submitted entries.

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