'Fricatives' won first prize in the 2021 National Poetry Competition.

From Rachel Long, one of the judges: "Some poems are worlds. This deeply affecting poem is two, or three. And how well it navigates them! — which is not to say that the poem does not have to confront them, thrash with them; the poem itself ‘a rubber raft’ attempting to make its way through the murky and treacherous waters of language, race, migration, and of being heard when “Nobody wants to listen/ to a spectacled boy with a Hong Kong accent.” How it moves still on and into another kind of language; love, sex; another learnt language, another sort of survival.”

Fricatives

by Eric Yip

To speak English properly, Mrs. Lee said, you must learn
the difference between three and free. Three men
escaped from Alcatraz in a rubber raft and drowned
on their way to Angel Island. Hear the difference? Try
this: you fought your way into existence. Better. Look
at this picture. Fresh yellow grains beaten
till their seeds spill. That’s threshing. That’s
submission. You must learn to submit
before you can learn. You must be given
a voice before you can speak. Nobody wants to listen
to a spectacled boy with a Hong Kong accent.
You will have to leave this city, these dark furrows
stuffed full with ancestral bones. Know
that death is thorough. You will speak of bruised bodies
skinnier than yours, force the pen past batons
and blood, call it fresh material for writing. Now
they’re paying attention. You’re lucky enough
to care about how the tongue moves, the seven types
of fricatives, the articulatory function of teeth
sans survival. You will receive a good education
abroad and make your parents proud. You will take
a stranger’s cock in your mouth in the piss-slick stall
of that dingy Cantonese restaurant you love and taste
where you came from, what you were made of all along.
Put some work into it, he growls. C’mon, give me
some bite. Your mother visits one October, tells you
how everyone speaks differently here, more proper.
You smile, nod, bring her to your favourite restaurant,
order dim sum in English. They’re releasing
the students arrested five years ago. Just a tad more
soy sauce please, thank you. The television replays
yesterday on repeat. The teapots are refilled. You spoon
served rice into your mouth, this perfect rice.
Steamed, perfect, white.

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test Twitter Media - "Thank you for purchasing your digi-bee pack
with additional Smart Hive pod. Soon you will have
the very best honey"
Karen Jane Cannon's @PoetrySociety Members Comp winning poem 'I, Bee'. Here's to real bees this #WorldBeeDay https://t.co/rXZPaiBGmn https://t.co/vOfQ2lw4tN

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test Twitter Media - The Southwark & Greenwich Stanzas are joining together for a free poetry event on Sat 28th May, in Red Cross Gardens, SE1 for the @ChelseaFringe - "Poems from the heart of the urban forest"! 
Come down to hear poems celebrating life within the forest:

https://t.co/f6MckYOOw6 https://t.co/3nItuwhOca

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Somerset poets! A new Stanza has just formed in Glastonbury - a friendly group for the exchange and discussion of poems in progress. Check out the listing here poetrysociety.org.uk/membership/poe… if you'd like to join ...

Back issue request! @PoetrySociety is hoping to gather some extra file copies of #ThePoetryReview from Spring/Autumn 2020. If any readers would like to clear some shelf space and maybe swap for another issue, please contact Publishing Manager here: jace@poetrysociety.org.uk

test Twitter Media - Back issue request! @PoetrySociety is hoping to gather some extra file copies of #ThePoetryReview from Spring/Autumn 2020. If any readers would like to clear some shelf space and maybe swap for another issue, please contact Publishing Manager here: jace@poetrysociety.org.uk https://t.co/vkiRolS9U2
test Twitter Media - Back issue request! @PoetrySociety is hoping to gather some extra file copies of #ThePoetryReview from Spring/Autumn 2020. If any readers would like to clear some shelf space and maybe swap for another issue, please contact Publishing Manager here: jace@poetrysociety.org.uk https://t.co/vkiRolS9U2

Congratulations to our friend and former colleague Mike Sims on his new role as Director of the T S Eliot Prize - and all the very best to outgoing Director Chris Holifield on her retirement! twitter.com/tseliotprize/s…

.@nadiadvv is a poet and writer with a PhD in Cultural Analysis from @UvA_Amsterdam. This #PoetryWednesday, discover 'White Meat' inside the Spring 2020 issue of #ThePoetryReview (@PoetrySociety): exacted.me/NadiadeVries 🦟 Retweeted by The Poetry Society