Uma Gowrishankar Wins the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge! - Writer's Digest

Uma Gowrishankar Wins the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge!

Publish date:

It's my pleasure to announce that Uma Gowrishankar has won the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge with her manuscript Inhale. Uma beat out a field of 120+ manuscripts.

I enjoyed every poem in Uma's 13-poem collection, but here are a few of my faves:

Blow That Stardust

It has been raining stars all night, silver dust
like crust of bread falling from the table.
Shooting stars bring luck if there's one at a time,
but when there is such a profuse shower
with hundreds of them descending on my roof
I appear like a ghost with a silver halo.

Oh for a full moon night with a starless sky.

Catch each one of them: use glass bowls with water,
hear the celestial visitors hiss angrily, sigh as they choke.
Don't let them scar, char your roof; blow the carbon dusts,
the soot that settles on your bougainvillea flowers
before they smother the magentaness that the seeds carry.
Persuade jasmines take the stars into their scented bosom,
caterpillars spin the luminescent jewel into their cocoon
to birth silver butterflies that light up a moonless night. But now,

for a full moon night with a starless sky.

That magical night I collected all stars but one,
the faintest one that I made my wish on,
sent prayers to the blur of energy dissipating in space.
Vacuum of emptiness sucked me to the quiet centre
where the wind dropped, earth stopped its throb,
heart beat slowed and the blood in the veins stilled

on that full moon light with a starless sky.

Tell Me Why I Want to Touch You

From the flat above music, strain of romance flows.
The insect walks to the edge of the window,
lands in the abyss of darkness, exiled from my vision.
Like the flash of tiger's tail headlights of cars
hang from the corner of the wall. He comes in,
neck creased between beads of moisture.
I touch the coiled warmth of summer trapped in there.


A fragile case of muscles and nerves laid on bed of mucus;
I peer through the skin, watch the ripples as food breaks,
air sacs settle in little nooks. I reach for them,
the little drops of pearl, play them in my hands,
hand it over to you: globules of breath that you inhale.

No One Wants to Remember Certain Things

The spider crawls on the damp wall
after trapezing silk thread of memory,
nightmare zipped inside the pillow
bellows like a pregnant woman,
skin of the womb of grief drawn thin
as pain pushes the wall to be birthed.
The night presses at the window,
pours into the corners of the room and
lies thick like tar that I cannot peel away.


Yesterday, when I friended Uma on Facebook, I realized she's our first challenge winner from India. I contacted her yesterday to let her know she'd won, and I asked her to share a little about her November PAD Chapbook Challenge experience.

Here is what Uma had to share:

I spent a considerable amount of time staring at your e-mail before it sank in. Thank
you so much for selecting my poems as the winner of 2010 November PAD Chapbook

This means a lot to me because I wrote these poems through
the month when my 90-year-old father-in-law suffering from the Parkinson's
Disease was slipping away from us. He passed away on 29th November and the last
two days of the month I couldn't bring myself to write.

Many of the
poems I wrote for the PAD Chapbook Challenge germinated in the hours that I
tended my father-in-law as he battled for breath the last month of his life. The
poems obsessively hover around the mortality of human flesh, transitoriness of
beauty and human relationships.

I normally don't rework majorly on
what I write. I might tighten the poem, cuss myself for a flamboyant image. When
I come back to rework/edit my poem, I come as a person different from the one
who wrote it. With these poems that carry so much the moments I lived through, I
hardly reworked. I read them and they carried memories of the slant of the sun I
followed day after day as I sat with my husband's father holding his hands.


Please join me in congratulating Uma for writing a great collection in a difficult time!

Please also join me in congratulating the other seven finalists, who are listed here (in random order):

  • Unfastening the Rust Belt, by Dan Nowak
  • Lost and Found: The Highways That Brought Me Home, by Larry Lawrence
  • I Can See My House From Here, by Constance Brewer
  • Endings, by Marissa Coon Rose
  • Worth a Thousand Words, by Walt Wojtanik
  • Around the Sun Without a Sail, by Richard Fenwick
  • Chapbook, by Michelle McEwen

Also, while we're at it, please join me in congratulating everyone who participated in the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, especially the 120+ who submitted chapbook manuscripts. That is an achievement in and of itself.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Publish your poetry!
Find hundreds of publishing opportunities for your poetry in the 2011 Poet's Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. In addition to several articles on the craft and business of poeming, the 2011 Poet's Market contains listings for poetry publishers, poetry publications, poetry contests, and more.

Click to continue.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.


New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


5 Tips for Writing Scary Stories and Horror Novels

Bestselling and award-winning author Simone St. James shares five tips for writing scary stories and horror novels that readers will love to fear.


On vs. Upon vs. Up On (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use on vs. upon vs. up on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


7 Very Specific Reasons Why I’m Excited for the 2020 WD Conferences

WD Editor-in-Chief Amy Jones explains why she's excited for the 2020 Writer's Digest Conferences, which are happening virtually November 5-7, 2020.


Sierra Magazine: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Sierra Magazine, the bimonthly print and online environmental publication of the Sierra Club.


Jonelle Patrick: Writing Edgier Than Bookshops and Cats

Novelist Jonelle Patrick discusses writing about a country she loves and the importance of both readers and editors.