Survivor’s Gift

Abu Bakr Sadiq Wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention Award

Abu Bakr Sadiq (above) wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize honorable mention for "Survivor's Gift." Courtesy of Abu Bakr Sadiq.

Every year, we award the annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to the poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is pleased to recognize four honorable mention submissions for 2024.


a garden of irises now grows where my family’s
favorite shopping mall used to be

in the end, i learn, even time
surrenders itself to memory

in my dreams, i watch women who raised me pack
faded family photographs into emptied pillowcases

like shadows children trail blindly behind parents
on the road to refugee camps outside the country

a woman uses my face to trace in her memory
what my mother looked like as a young girl

long before the first gunshot went off
in the middle of the city.

another blows prayers into her son’s face,
before he leaves for school

on the news, terrorists threaten to start killing
kidnapped train passengers.

elementary school teachers protest with placards
for unpaid salaries. cameroonian government

complain of a surge of asylum seekers
most of which are from my country. during visits,

i hear victims of bomb attacks on hospital beds,
empty endless rivers of curses into the deafened ears

of the government. hundreds of exiles get lost
in the sands, trying to cross the sahara desert.

after the stitches are removed, a boy stares
into a mirror at a face he fails to recollect

as his own. in a documentary, doctors struggle
to hold back the blood jetting through

a splintered vein in a girl’s neck. on the cityscape
a dark cloud spreads silently like a tumor under an eye.

Abu Bakr Sadiq is the author of Leaked Footages, which won the 2023 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. He is the winner of the 2022 IGNYTE award for Best Speculative Poetry and a finalist for the 2023 Evaristo Prize for African Poetry.

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