Summer 2022 Competition
Contestants were judged not only on their stylistic choices but the gravity of the content itself. Particularly, those who addressed a topic of personal significance, whether that be something one felt passionate about, resinated, or identified with. We covet work that shares a unique perspective and successfully communicates a meaningful message in an intimate, in-depth manner with the reader or observer.
Ink Bowl Master Award
Houses Under Renovation
Evren Bektaş Bertan
Excerpt From "Houses Under Renovation"
I. white dog
when misfortune struck,
we were alone within four walls
with two pairs of eyes,
two pairs of hands,
and grey was the colour of love
when the downpour flooded in,
it first took the horses,
then housewives, then the radio,
at last, it took the americans
the streetlights came crashing
into their respective narrow streets
to make little fireworks
on the brim of the night hours
when we were all alone
with one cat, one dog, and an old hag,
you crouch down quietly,
and pet the ghastly white dog
you seal your eyes
from the smitten glare,
and let the nothing remain
i could see from your eyes
that love takes the colour grey
when the lover is on their way
all life was frothing at the mouth
at the hollow bones we feed on,
the earthquakes we cause,
and the livings we make
off of the hollow bones we feed on
and the earthquakes we cause
and the livings we make
it must suck to know
that we have to
Evren Bektaş Bertan
About the Author
I am a queer writer and aspiring filmmaker from Instanbul, Turkey. Currently, I am a high school senior in the International Baccalaureate Program. I intend to pursue Filmmaking or Media Studies as a major.
My biggest storytelling influences have been Kurt Vonnegut, James Joyce, Patti Smith, Fritz Lang, Maya Deren, and David Lynch. As an obnoxiously loud person, I love to tell stories of voices that never had the volume to be heard. That is my biggest inspiration–both to create, and to live. I want to change the world by influencing the people that will one day change that world for the better. It is a slow process that takes each of our fingerprints to do so. I adore avant-garde filmography, dinosaurs, and statistics. I fear the future.
"Houses Under Renovation" is a pessimistic, non-linear narrative poem that portrays an unnamed protagonist's battle with a terminal illness until they succumb to their inevitable death. Parted into five chapters, the poem is a compilation of the narrator’s memories and insights during the time of their antemortem depression. The Collection addresses a plethora of social issues, from classism and racism to the prioritization of capitalistic values in the healthcare system. In addition, "Houses Under Renovation" explores the topics of careless mistreatment of mental health patients, the subsequent effect of depression on romantic relationships affected, and the communication deficit plaguing contemporary society. Narrated with a debilitated tone, the poem captures the collapse of society as we know it due to the forces of modern alienation.
Literature Category Winner
Woman With Sharpest Teeth & Softest Palms
About the Author
I, Smita Singh, am a 20-year-old Indian who is a literature student by academia and a poet by heart. I write because it belongs more to the world than to me. Probably more. Certainly more.
About the Work
This piece is more about the rise than the fall. It is a wolf howling to the moon, a voice waiting to be heard, to be listened to. This poem is a testament to, "Women for women."
New Delhi, India
"Woman With Sharpest Teeth & Softest Palms"
There's this old tradition in my house where, when we sit down for dinner, the noise of the grief-stricken creaking chairs overpowers the sound of our heartbeats.
Maa cooks curd rice and French beans for dinner with her hands engraved with Baba's violent love- it's her anniversary, and she's wearing her favorite golden-yellow kanjivaram saree as she serves me apple custard with a melancholic smile, dying to yell till her lungs give out, "I am hurting- I am hurting- I am hurting; please save me, my child." A cavity begins to form in my molars; I hear a bone inside me break; my shoulder blades mourn my futile existence.
Baba stays up late watching BBC news and, on most nights, drinking cheap alcohol and smoking in other women's silhouettes at bars. When I tell Maa he is not in love with her, she frowns as if it is a God-given lineage—broken marriage imprinted on her scalp like desperate teen tattoos. She sends me to sleep while decorating her dead dreams on Nani's unfinished woolen shawl.
Didi is an audience who has been visiting empty stadiums for years now; hoping for a less painful defeat; helping Maa wipe out her salty tears before they mix up with the dough, and I, a rebel with a taped mouth and rope-tied hands, wanting to scream into the monotonous sky and make stars go to war for my dying mother. I want to untangle every constellation and send them on a mission to shut patriarchy, make it bleed till it sobs out humanity and pukes chauvinism out of its trachea.
So when an Indian woman goes into media to let the world know how fucking doomed she is, and people shame her for projecting her voice, for wanting not just to be heard but listened to, I want to say—s c r e w y o u society for imposing loveless marriage down naive women's throats; romanticizing the guillotine-like fancy French art that needs to be gulped down in order to adapt to modern culture.
When we say we have been hurting, what we need is your hand reaching out to uplift us. We need you to intertwine your heartstrings with ours until empowerment becomes a new language and a female infant learns it like the back of her tiny, chunky hands while plaiting her Barbie's hair with fresh blood, reeking of subsumed toxic masculinity we can stand and trip-walk ourselves. Just don't tear the bandaids from our scraped knees. Our wounds are our recovery stripes—our identity.
Don't shush us and tell us that womanhood is a generational curse; that womanhood disgusts you. Because we know you are terrified of us— that we might nail our bindis on the parched walls, leave our bloody footprints on costly maple floors; carve revolutions in slum streets with our burnt hands;
strangle prejudices with our kanjivaram sarees; undrape them to make your deathbed look aesthetic and watch you bleed in crimson red with Maa Kali's laughter.
We know that the only reason you buy a ticket
for our dying exhibition is because you don't want us to die-
you want us to suffer and womb.
Your ugly stereotypes and rotten misogyny, we know that when you call us weak,
what you mean is that
our ribcage houses your strength,
and you're afraid
of your dead life
Art Category Winner
An Embrace From Our Flawed Selves
About the Collection
Gender stereotypes and the chaos and calamity they subconsciously bring into the lives of individuals are my basic concern.
My paintings depict the human body with thick layers of paint, which hide, yet reveal it. It is similar to the trauma and other emotions that manifest over time. Sentences from my research, colors, abstraction, and placement of these paintings go through a well-thought process to depict various emotions, situations, and traumas one experiences in life.