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2021 Place & Home Contest Results

2021 Place and Home Contest Results

Congratulations to the winners of the Dreamers 2021 Stories of Migration, Sense of Place and Home Contest!

We started our Stories of Migration, Sense of Place and Home contest prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, my own sense of place and home felt solid and concrete. Home has since taken on a much weightier feeling (weighty though it already was). During the pandemic, “stay at home” has become a mantra for many of us. It is an obligation we’ve undertaken to keep each other safe. It is also our shelter from an illness that has profoundly changed the world beyond our walls. I connect safety and permanence with home, but what about those who don’t have one? Or those who live alone and thus home means isolation? Where do refugees go when borders are closed? For them and many others, home is anything but safe. Increasing concerns about mental health and domestic violence are now frequent topics of conversation. My son is experiencing social anxiety so severe, I can barely get him past our front door. He’s 6. Humanity’s concept of home has always been complicated – the pandemic has made it even more so.

This is a heavy topic and one for which I have many questions and few answers, but what I can offer is the comfort of stories. This topic, these stories – they are important, more now than ever before. We need to keep engaging with each other, however we can.

Although it was a difficult choice as always, this year we awarded 1 first place prize and 3 honourable mentions.

Thank you to our judge, Phil McNichol, long-time newspaper reporter, award winning columnist, and author of the popular blog, Finding Hope Ness. Here’s what Phil had to say about our winning story by Pat Mullarkey:

“This story affected me the most with its quiet intensity. It tells the hard truth simply yet profoundly with its perfect choice of words. It exemplifies the truth of ‘less is more’ as it shines a light on tragedy. The last sentence is magical and leaves me astonished by the infinity of meaningful possibilities in those final words.”

And now, without further ado, here are the winning entries!

First Place:

‘I Have Been a Stranger in a Strange Land’
Fiction by Pat Mullarkey

“The boat stares back with many eyes. Some closed in prayer, others close to fainting. A few people imagine childhood homes or hold photos of a small Italian port. Some cry. Some are confused. Here and there a determined face, jaw jutted out in defiance. A last stand of anger and human dignity.”

Honorable Mentions:

Dispersal Lessons
Nonfiction by Lyn Baldwin

“This is what I want to know. Do those cottonwood seeds who fail in dispersal—piled in drifts, suspended in the air—mourn the roots they will never know? Do the proteins in seed coats know their thirst as they reach for water—the first step in germination? Is the risk of mobility easier if you never have a choice, if you go by chance or by the desire of another? Or is the true cost only known when it’s you who makes the decision when to go, when to stay?”

Barbed Wilderness
Fiction by Natalia Hrycay

“Every day they stare through the barbed wire at the mountains, the ones they’ll never see up close, the ones they’ll never climb. Mountains which will be littered in coming times with hikers from all over the world, stopping to take in the sweeping views of the Canadian wilderness; ignorant of the fact that hundreds of innocent prisoners had once looked onto where they now stand.”

The Immigrant
Poem by Marlene Tartaglione

“Like stained flags on a matrix
of polio & typhoid,
grief was our anthem, struggle, our stage.”

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who entered the contest!

Our 2022 Sense of Place and Home Contest is now open for submissions! Submit your stories of migration and/or your sense of place, of home or lack of, for your chance to win! Submissions are due by January 31, 2022. 

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