Last night we received an excellent submission for ROSA that unfortunately had to be rejected. Why? Well it didn’t fit the criteria as it wasn’t an original written specifically for the award. Still, the piece was so good that I really wanted to share it with you.
So, our loss is your gain. The guidelines page is getting an update to be a bit clearer about what we expect. Basically, we just want originals written to the criteria of each award. We don’t want to hold your copyright, and the work is always yours. We do want you to read the question carefully. The ROSA award is dedicated to Rosa Parks, but you don’t have to write about her and if you look at the theme ‘non-compliance in the 21st Century,’ you probably shouldn’t.
Part of what we are trying to achieve is to get people writing and submitting more often. Quicker turn around times means less time to endlessly juggle the words around. We want fiction that is evocative, strong and assured. Edit your work, by all means, but trust your instincts. There will always be another award.
So without any further ado: ‘We Owe It To You” by Maroula Blades
WE OWE IT TO YOU
For Rosa Parks
It takes a movement to bring about change in dry infinity or some may say, the lack of one. Your tired legs could stand no longer. In “no man’s land” you sat, clasping painkillers on your lap. A colourless rider stood in the aisle. The bus driver’s coarse voice punched the air with, “All right, you niggers. I want those seats.” Your quiet “No,” a distended cloud, rained on Montgomery – Alabama 1955 where the eyes of whiteness stalked the streets. Phantoms with spike tongues ran, flaunting coshes to thrash ‘darkie’s flesh.’ The Jim Crow law marched without a curfew.
A paper chase settled on the lawn of the Supreme Court. The puzzle of names screamed as they came together, counted. Even the ghosts cut their nooses from budding Memorial Trees, faces with crooked lips, gouged out eyes and abysses where their manhood should be, rallied. The wind morphed battered features, floating on the Mississippi River, a painful exhibit of fathers, brothers and youths. Snagged, waterlogged bodies defiantly rose from the river root, some with bobby socks and plaits, and others who had once the form of gazelles faced the sun, anaemic and bloated. Black peeled itself away from the backs of mirrors, a transparent happening. No excuses not to see through the window. It took 382 days. The mandate: Alabama’s bus segregation laws unconstitutional.
You became our planet, the sun for black folk to turn to. Swarthy necks grew out from your orbit, gravitating towards freedom’s light. “Onward Christian Soldiers,” armed with a protest, a pillar of blackness with an aim as sharp as a pickaxe. Soulful voices echoed for miles out of the ghettos, over moonscapes and down through the tree lined suburbs. A future ran straight into our hearts, designed like a main road.
The stone which fell, is still falling, your word freed it, but it still feels the burn of repression in the free fall. Your titanium smile is etched in the core, a fire of light in the dark, a flickering universe of hope that tomorrow will be brighter, wiser and full of release.
Maroula Blades is an Afro-British poet/writer living in Berlin. She has recently won the Erbacce Prize 2012. Erbacce Press (UK) will publish her first poetry collection Blood Orange in the near future. Works have been published in Kaleidoscope Magazine, Trespass Magazine, Words with Jam, The Latin Heritage Foundation, Domestic Cherry, Caribbean Writer, Peepal Tree and Cornelsen Verlag (Ger.) to name but a few. Her Poetry/Music Programme has been presented on several stages in Berlin. Maroula’s first poetry/music single Meta Stasis released by Havavision Records (UK) on the 2.04.2012 is available from I-tunes and Amazon.