Call for Submissions: The Things We Carried

Calling Guyanese-American or Guyanese immigrant poets!

For The Things We Carried, my archive for the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), I’m soliciting poems inspired by the objects that Guyanese in the US with any Indian indentured ancestor(s) brought with us in our journeys to the United States. This call is part of an experiment rooted in material memory — the idea that objects can sometimes trigger a revealing remembrance of things past — and based also in the metonymic bones of poetry. Can a wedding necklace, a childhood skullcap, an identity card, a lota, a collection of Edgar Mittelholzer or Enid Blyton novels be the part that signifies the symbolic whole of our coming to America? What might it mean for us to focus not on loss, on what we left behind, but on self-preservation, the things we brought with us, to help us reinvent?

As part of the call, and as a way to build and enjoy community, award-winning Guyanese-American poet and Emerson College professor Rajiv Mohabir will lead a creative writing workshop on using material objects as a prompt for poetry on Wednesday, August 26, from 6:30pm to 8pm ET. Attendance at the workshop, which is limited to 25 people, is not required to submit poetry for the archive. You can register for the workshop here:

SAADA is accepting submissions below, which will be anonymized. I will choose three winners solely on the basis of their work, with the identity of the writer concealed. Each winner will receive an award of $150. A video or audio recording of each poem, read by the writer, will become part of SAADA’s online archive on Guyanese-Americans, along with oral histories, photographs, documents and ephemera. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, September 4, and winners will be notified no later than September 11. The poems will enter the archive before September 25, 2020.

Submissions of previously unpublished work are welcome. You can submit up to three poems, of any length, below. Prose poetry is also welcome. If selected, you’ll retain the copyright to your work and are free to submit it for publication elsewhere.

Yours sincerely,
Gaiutra Bahadur
SAADA Archival Creators Fellow