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Winner of the 2020 Gearhart Poetry Contest

Selected by Kaveh Akbar

Words I First Used in Poetry

after asked abundant air American allegiance aching around avalanches another airstrike altered agony buried blame bountiful border bind bound born boulders bondage borrowed betrayal backed beating carried countries careful certificates cited cruelty casted color calm cutthroat child carved clotted cuts death darkening disappeared daughter distant damage drone division defenses different dangers exceptions exorcised empty execution evil echo escape error enemy equipment exhausted extended exile Father fantasy Father forget Father foreign Father finally flooding fleeing flag falling forever forging gaps graved God gave gratitude ghosts genes geography grand grasp gone grandfather grounded haunt hilled horror hysterical honey hanging hurt headed home hiding harped imagination inching identity itched interrogation instant independence interrupted intention invested joys jawed jabbed jagged journey jihad jinn Kurdistan last lost looming longing language lightened look lifted land listened liver lord mistake mourning mountain memorizing movement mouth memory marriage massacre memoir name natural nonwar naive nationality newborn neglect nocturnal offer outwardly obeying officials only oil outbalance passion passage passport photograph portion particle partly parable proofed pact pacified peshmerga possession quarantine rushed resistance recovered righteousness rested rite ringed relapse remagine relief re: empty remember returning silence superior stain searing source stolen state swallowed shame slightly severed territory turning terror terrifying tilt terrorist torture trainers took tenderness transfer tongue touch understanding uncle unlike upright unmoving units unborn unified uneasiness unknowing underneath vodka verily we worry waging wrong wars whistling wind willing winter waiting weep writing warmth xanthic yes your young yolk yearning youth zero zor zero zor zero


HAJJAR BABAN is a Pakistan-born Afghan Kurdish poet. A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a current MFA in Poetry candidate at the University of Virginia, she has poems appearing in The Adroit Journal, Frontier Poetry, and Foundry, among others. You can find her work here:


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