Tuesday 11 October 2022

Shauna Strathmann, Two Poems

Congratulations to Shauna Strathmann, winner of this year's G. S. Fraser Poetry Prize! Below, you can read about Shauna and her two winning poems. Congratulations too to Sara Waheed, who was awarded an "honourable mention" for her poetry. 

By Shauna Strathmann 

Hi! I'm Shauna, and I'm studying second-year English with Creative Writing. I enjoy language learning, overanalysing low budget children's musical movies, and playing the "I'm foreign" card when I mispronounce an English word, despite living here for 19 years.

The idea for the poem "BE7049" came about when we considered in a seminar how much poetry there is to be found in mundane places, and mundane forms. I've revisited Germany many times since moving away, and therefore seen the airport experience through ever-ageing eyes. I wanted to retain the child-like wonder within the constraints of an itinerary format; no matter how long you wait at baggage claim, keep the romance of the journey within you!

The poem "Kinderszenen" was inspired by my love for Gothic imagery, as well as Mario Benedetti's poem "Luna Congelada," which expresses that "One can sometimes understand love" through difficult "solitude." I related this to the difficulty of recognising yourself as your parents' child even when you couldn't feel more cut off from them. I picked a German title in part to contrast with my other poem; many people have a very complex relationship with where they're from originally, and while it's fun to romanticise some aspects, it's equally interesting to see how home can feel unsafe too.

                                                                                                Düsseldorf International
                                                                                                Seat: 21D
                                                                                                Boarding Time: 18:00
                                                                                                Arrival: 20:40

20:40          I am home.
                   In the shuffling grumbling herd,
                   Onto the shuttle bus -

20:55          The carousel takes cheetahs;
                   And leopards;
                   And zebras;
                   I chase my precious Rhinozeros in an urban safari

21:15          announcements, Ankundingungen, Passkontrolle, passport control, 
                   The tannoy sings in the tongues of the continent, 
                   And I skip through the signed labyrinth

22:00          At the edge of a star-strewn tunnel
                   A sweet shop end-stopping the universe;
                   Language is reborn, Alles ist neu
                   Packaging glimmers, Eistee sparkles
                   Kaffee und Schokolade mit Erdbeeren
                   My breath catches as I say goodbye
                   To the lady with a shiny pin and glittering smile
                   Schönes Wochenende!

22:15          I trip over my suitcase
                   Out the spinning door
                   Take a gulp of this cosmos
                   Ich bin Zuhause.


a changeling snuck in the night
key left in the door
bumped my knees coming through the back, using kitchen light
a purse of the lips and that tinkle – my mind prepares for indeterminate war
swathed in a stench i was accustomed to
if their hair looked like mine i would cleave it
gouge out from my sockets shards of green
until it no longer looked like they made me 
– the other one is the new one
but i have been bruised for so long; i am unacquainted with their love
poisoned by my jamais vu i must remember:
i am of them, and of them too. 
so if both packed their bags at one time or another
which was the lodger, and which was my mother?

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