2017 – Ages 19+ : Winner

Muhammad Abbas Jaffer

Theme – The Struggle for Success

Judges’ comments: There is so much we loved about this poem.  The approach was extremely original and creative.  It was visually pleasing and made the exact impact it intended to.  The ideas of Struggle and Success and the historical incidents they were referenced with gave it a depth that was only revealed and appreciated as each line unfolded. Highly commended!

( یُسْرًا الْعُسْرِ مَعَ فَإِنَّ ( 94:5
For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
( یُسْرًا الْعُسْرِ مَعَ إِنَّ ( 94:6
Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease



  1. It starts with a slap. Learn that sound for it will taunt you again. Smoke haunts your lungs, not for the last time. When the dust declines, you see a broken door. You see a broken man tied down. His crown has been stolen and a blood-stained nail hails the death of your unborn brother.
  2. The cries of the animals wake you, takes you to the mihrab where the sight of blood shakes you. Now you’re an orphan. He was the sea, you the river, and soon the message will be yours to deliver.
  3. Your brother coughs up his own liver as they draw arrows out from their quivers and shoot them…
  4. … into your brother’s eye, your nephew’s throat. Now he is all alone. Don’t forget to kiss the chest that will turn to dust, kiss the neck before the dagger does. Close your eyes and pray for dark.
  5. Shaam. Shaam. Shaam.



  1. There’s no grief like your grief, no struggle like your struggle, but look…
  2. Like a leaf, your brother’s flag flutters untroubled in the breeze for all to see, and…
  3. A sea of black now washes across your home, see?
  4.  And we won’t leave until your dome gleams, until the screams and slaps and swords are replaced with nothing but beauty.
  5. You doubt your success? I ask, “Where are you and where are they?”


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