FourHubs Poetry Prize Winner: Sumia Jamaa

Winner of the FourHubs 2018 Poetry Prize is Sumia Jaama for her poem 'Before Leaving'. Aside from winning £400, Sumia will be taking on the Spread The Word online poetry course 'Heat and Light' facilitated by Ella Frears.  

On the poem, judge Momtaza Mehri noted "There is a tenderness to this poem that elevates its simplicity to a kind of transcendence. Think of the untold ripple below the water's surface. Here is a 'communal commitment' to tightly held tension, to sacrifices, to leaving and being left behind."

Before Leaving by Sumia Jaama

‘Do you see? The bones of stars are falling’
Richard Georges, ‘Ghazal of Guyana’

Leaving. Qaraami diffuses through a radio station.
The first time you notice this city above us, bones
unhinge. Here is a communal commitment
to leaving. A cousin lays in a hospital bed, his spine
leaning. The way oud strings curl backwards,
stop playing. His frame bequeaths a city
of scaffolding. A disc slips out of place. Before 

leaving. Pre-displacement settings still
doesn’t feel like home. Any phone call
that starts +252 is an echo —let it ring.
The first time you notice this sky of skeletons
is on a rooftop somewhere drafting obituaries. 
Another disc slips. There are enough holes
in the sky now, for it to fold. Before
 

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Sumia Jaama is a Barbican Young Poet Alumni (2017-18), she often runs workshops in secondary schools, festivals and as part of Keats house's Creative Writing Summer School. She is a linguist and programmer having completed her BA in Arabic and English literature. Sumia often writes about exploring absence and what there is to discover about blank spaces in relation to ourselves. 

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2018 FourHubs Poetry Prize