June's Poetry Contest Winner: Why They Got Deported

Posted by Cybil on June 1, 2018

Every month, Goodreads and the ¡POETRY! group host a poetry contest. It's a great way to discover and support the work of emerging poets. Join the ¡POETRY! group where you can vote to select the winning poem each month from among the finalists. Aspiring poets can also submit a poem for consideration.

Congratulations to Jan Steckel, who is our June winner with this poem:

Why They Got Deported

by Jan Steckel

Because he had a tattoo of a heart
with the name of his birthplace in Mexico.
Because she used a Social Security number
she had made up. Because he had one DUI
ten years ago. Because she overstayed
her visa when she was seven. Because
he didn’t sound like he’d been born in Lansing.
Because it took her an extra three months
to save the $495 to renew her work permit.
Because 20 years ago he bought a car
that had expired registration. Because she gave
a hand job to an undercover cop. Because she
took food stamps to feed her three kids
while she worked cleaning hotel rooms.
Because he had a joint on him twelve years ago.
Because fire is hungry and famine
walks the land. Because the night is dark
and full of terrors. Because we don’t want
you to play with us. Because it’s ours.
Because we can.

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Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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message 1: by Deepti (new)

Deepti This sort of virtue signalling drivel is what most of the creative writing world deems talent, unfortunately. There's no space for humour or experimenting or narrating 'regular' stories anymore.

message 2: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay Fake Poetry!

message 3: by Jared (new)

Jared Bernard Granted, this may not be fantastic poetry. I'm not sure I would call this drivel, Deepti, but I understand what you and others are saying about this piece lacking depth and stylistic ingenuity.

I can tolerate the politically fierce responses from Chris etc. because certain parts of the this piece are cinematic stereotypes, specifically the undercover cop line. In the author's defense, however, your responses suggest that you believe the stereotypes to be true.

Regarding the political retort, I have been through the immigration process 3 times in my life, and trust me it is not easy even if you're white and from a first world nation. My friend just flew back to England to renew a visa, and another friend is now separated from his fiancee because her visa expired. I personally just spent over a year and a half vying to get permanent residency. Once you pay thousands of dollars, files dozens of thoroughly incomprehensible forms, supported by multitudes of documentation, you finally end up at an interview with an immigration officer who asks unfathomably personal questions. Imagine being told to get a birth certificate replaced because you need to verify who your parents really are, never mind that you gave all their information. Imagine being told to gaze into your loved ones eyes and tell them that you love them so that the interviewer will believe you. I would not suggest that anyone subject themselves to the torture that is immigration unless absolutely necessary.

The government keeps talking about increasing the vetting process, but it is actually quite stringent already. The forms for applying for refugee status are not simple, and a lot of evidence must be provided. Truth be told, if my family was in a crisis situation such as that taking place in Syria, Central African Republic, or Myanmar, you can bet that I would do whatever it takes to get them to safety, even if that meant entering a country illegally.

Over a hundred years ago, immigration wasn't nearly as difficult. A person could arbitrarily move to Fiji or Brazil without much hassle if any. I think that we forget that the state of borders during the past century is a new thing. Some towns that exist on the Canadian and Mexican borders were accustomed to life surrounding a border, and it was viewed as a funny facet of the towns. Now we can treat people as criminals at the airport, take their children away, incarcerate them, or send them back to a war-torn nation and certain death and feel completely righteous about it. And people who manage to finally get the proper visas to live here are seen as vermin or even as terrorists by the ignorant citizens, and they end up forced to live in the margins of society.

One more thing: between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries being white and Christian wasn't enough to make you American, and immigrants from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, etc. were subjected to dehumanizing derogatory ridicule by the more established citizens. It wasn't very long ago. We've all heard this rhetoric before, but it's true: each of us are from immigrants, be it first, second, third, or forth generation. At one point, all our families set out for a new place to set up a new life, some probably under the threat of imminent danger to their families, some prepared to face an arduous existence once they reached their destination, and would do absolutely anything to ensure that their families got through to the other side.

This is what the poem was trying to bring to light, I think. It could have been revised but I laud the attempt and hope the writer continues to hone her craft in this vein.

message 4: by Zohal (new)

Zohal I'm not surprised that the minute a poem gets 'political' the comment section turns into a ball of fire. I don't remember the comment section being like this with any other poem they selected in the past months.

It's unfortunate.

message 5: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Wow, congratulations, Jan!! I'm happy for you.:)

This was the first I'd heard of the Poetry group, let alone the monthly contests. It's certainly something to consider, as I'm passionate about writing and dabble a bit in poetry. Thank you, Goodreads!!

message 6: by Jared (new)

Jared Bernard Evers☯n wrote: "...I myself have written some real crap. But I am willing to admit that it is, in fact, crap. And I would never enter into a poetry contest with any serious intent!"

I agree with you. But honestly, if you wrote a terrific poem, you would probably aim for a different venue than a blog's poetry contest such as this. I would think this sort of contest would be good for middle-tier experimental drafts, or for a novice to gain experience, but your best stuff would be submitted elsewhere. Not that I don't support this venue or think it's not worthy of good work, but if I put real effort into something, I'll try to get paid for it or place it somewhere with good exposure. That's why I think it's fine that this poem was selected in this monthly blog contest; the poem needs a lot of work but the general concept isn't bad.

By the way, I think "Bloody Sunday" was John Lennon's.

message 7: by Brigid (new)

Brigid "Because the night is dark and full of terrors." Really?
The line should be: "Because they plagarized a line from A Game of Thrones."

message 8: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel This virtue signalling schlock is being peddled as poetry? Yikes.

message 9: by Jared (new)

Jared Bernard Evers☯n wrote: "I have to admit that I never considered this point of view. I have entered my own poetry here never considering that this is possibly an entry level contest..."

You seem like an avid writer, so I suggest trying to publish if you have the inclination. It's not easy to publish poetry these days, but there are places. Writer's Market has a listing for poetry and there's the Poet's Market.

Thanks for the U2 link! Didn't realize this topic was quite so famous for songs! Here's the Sunday Bloody Sunday song from 1972 (the year of the Bloody Sunday in Derry).

Gus Upcott, the killer (Anomie) | Rest In Piss Liz Idk much about poetry but the politics are way better than that of the fascists that have infested these comments. Abolish borders

message 11: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Robyn wrote: "Idk much about poetry but the politics are way better than that of the fascists that have infested these comments. Abolish borders"
This is how you successfully make alternatives to so called "Fascism" unappealing.

message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark A hilarious pile of garbage.

message 13: by Jared (new)

Jared Bernard Chris wrote: "You know who wanted to abolish borders? Hitler.

Wow. Your stereotypes are even worse than the original poem, presuming that all immigrants (especially "illegal" ones) are drug-pushing gangsters and con artists -- never mind that American citizens commit crimes and create a demand for both illicit drugs and immigrants willing to work for less than minimum wage. I can see there's no point in trying to debate about it.

I wish that more immigrants fleeing dire situations had the option of getting themselves to Canada, where they would at least end up with free universal health care. Also, instead of "legal" immigrants facing a melting pot of conformity as they do in the US, they find more of a "cultural mosaic" in Canada where people are encouraged to represent their homelands.

As I alluded to in my initial comment, regarding the historic ease of immigration and how it is only recently associated with criminality, I agree with Robyn. Abolish borders.

The only thing worse than a racist, sexist, or fascist are people who don't know they are one, so they feel quite justified in their stances.

message 14: by Marian (new)

Marian As one whose relatives had to wait in line for decades to LEGALLY enter the country, I find this "poem" to be incredibly one-sided. It's actually offensive to those who followed the lawful process and have been politically sidelined (not to mention verbally insulted) for their pains.

message 15: by Brigid (new)

Brigid Evers☯n wrote: "Brigid wrote: ""Because the night is dark and full of terrors." Really?
The line should be: "Because they plagarized a line from A Game of Thrones.""We could also say that since Because The Night i..."

I'm all for creative expression, but they could have simply changed the line slightly instead of using the exact same line from an iconic book series millions of people have read and a television series about 16 million people watch. Maybe they did come up with it themself, "multiple discovery" and all that, but given the popularity of the line, most people would assume it was copied.

message 16: by Brigid (new)

Brigid Chris wrote: "Brigid wrote: "Evers☯n wrote: "Brigid wrote: ""Because the night is dark and full of terrors." Really?
The line should be: "Because they plagarized a line from A Game of Thrones.""We could also say..."

That intention didn't seem clear to me, but that could be a good explanation.

message 17: by HeatherJay (new)

HeatherJay For christs sake, GR, really? Way to incite the members. Hope you got the clicks you were looking for.

message 18: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd XXXXXX wrote: "response to everson:
in general i agree with your long comment above, however, you said bukowski is crap. bukowski is definitely not crap, i assure you of that. of your mentioned 20th century lyric..."

The entries for the June 2018 Contest were submitted in May 2018, the winner was voted for before the end of May 2018. Sometime in June 2018 there will a thread on the main page of the Poetry group called: Please Post Your Poem For the July 2018 Goodreads Newsletter Contest. You can then enter a poem for the July 2018 Contest, the winner of which will be voted for before the end of June 2018. So the winner of each month's contest is voted for in the preceding month.

message 19: by Sally Boots (new)

Sally Boots Kudos, Jan! Compassionate and concise—a perfect poem.

message 20: by Anaya (new)

Anaya Yeesh guys it literally says it's for "emerging poets" it makes sense if their writing isn't amazing. It's fine if you don't like the poem because you don't think it was written nicely, but relax about the politics. If you wanted a different poem chosen that was less political then you should have voted, just calm down. If you don't like Goodreads' choice of poems no one is making you stay. I'm honestly just here to learn about cool new books and see some new poetry not read about people's polarized political opinions.

message 21: by Holly (new)

Holly William Butler Yeats and Dame Edith Sitwell have nothing to worry about. These monthly poetry contests really inspire me to look up the good poets and read them.

message 22: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd XXXXXX wrote: "Philip wrote: "XXXXXX wrote: "response to everson:
in general i agree with your long comment above, however, you said bukowski is crap. bukowski is definitely not crap, i assure you of that. of you..."

No, you read my explanation wrong. During the month of May 2018, poems are submitted for the June 2018 contest. Before the end of May 2018 the winner of the June 2018 is voted for then published in June 2018. Why They Were Deported was the winner of the June 2018 Contest. Sometime in June 2018 there will be a thread on the Poetry group page called Please Post Your Poem For The July 2018 Goodreads Newsletter Contest. The winner of that contest will voted for before the end of June 2018 and will be published in July 2018 as the July 2018 contest winner. I hope that is clearer.

message 23: by Jefferson (new)

Jefferson Carter A coupla comments about this thread:

1) There's no accounting for tastes, especially among poets and wannabe poets.

2) Song lyrics ARE not poetry. Unlike verse, they are created with the expectation they will be accompanied by a melody.

3) I defy anyone to write good poem promoting the alt-Reich's

message 24: by Jefferson (last edited Jun 04, 2018 05:21PM) (new)

Jefferson Carter XXXXXX wrote: "Jefferson wrote: "A coupla comments about this thread:

1) There's no accounting for tastes, especially among poets and wannabe poets.

2) Song lyrics ARE not poetry. Unlike verse, they are create..."

OK! Write a poem praising Trumpf as a great President. Be serious. I double dare you.

message 25: by Jefferson (new)

Jefferson Carter I agree about fascists thriving on the left and the right. I do hope you're not a Trumpf supporter since he's currently assaulting the Constitution and the "balance of power" among the three branches of government.

I'm still waiting for your poem praising Mein Trumpf.

message 26: by Eileen (new)

Eileen R **sigh** Following in Hollywood's footsteps, the book industry is now giving literature awards only to crap that is either about diversity or other liberal ideologies. First of all, this is not a poem. Second of all, it doesn't even use poetic or lyrical phrasing. And finally, like all book/review institutions, Goodreads feels a need to force political garbage down our throats to make us get with the progressive platform. Sounds like "1984" to me.

message 27: by Jefferson (last edited Jun 05, 2018 09:56AM) (new)

Jefferson Carter Well, Eversshite and XXXXX, I suspect you're the same troll, your misspellings are similar (it's instead of its)) as is your love of "hahahaha." I suspect you'll "both" be leaving us as soon as Amy reads over your toxic and illiterate posts.

Eileen, that criticism, "this is not a poem." is nonsense. It IS a poem (writing organized by lines and stanzas, that utilizes form to enhance content). Whether it's a GOOD poem or not is the question, a question which devolves too often into personal, subjective taste (read this thread).

I'm trying to think of any decent contemporary poet who is an alt-Reicher (defined by every decision Trumpf and his GOP asslickers have made since 2016). I can't think of any. Sarah Palins' book of sonnets "Dig, Baby, Dig" or Mike Pence's epic poem "Christ Is my Co-conspirator," even though self-published, might tickle your fascist fancy, but, IMO, they are proof some folks should stick to their true talent, lying and f**king over their fellow citizens.

message 28: by Doug (new)

Doug Greene I am not sure I agree with Evers as far as political influence is concerned, but I certainly agree that this is the most un-poetic winning poem I have ever seen from GR. Sorry, but there is not one memorable line or turn of phrase here. Not even a particularly well chosen word. Truly mediocre.

message 29: by Eileen (last edited Jun 05, 2018 08:30PM) (new)

Eileen R "might tickle your fascist fancy"?
My, my, Jefferson! A fascist, am I, merely because you don't agree with me? That comment makes you appear outrageously ignorant and quick to stereotype. How many times in your comments above did you talk about fascists? Do you have an obsession with them? Do you even know what one is? Is this not supposed to be a discussion of the merits (or lack thereof) of the poem chosen by Goodreads (and by extension, by Amazon)? My comment merely observes how the selection of award-winning books and movies is politically motivated. Nowhere am I promoting any ideology or insulting anyone for theirs. So it looks like I am a fascist because... well, because you say so. That's truly a deductive leap worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

As for whether that is truly a poem, I suppose poetry is in the eye of the beholder. And for an ignorant person, splitting a sentence into several lines could be interpreted as a stanza. And lines and stanzas make it a poem enhanced by form and content. Let me phrase the rest of this paragraph into what you consider a poem:
"Your asinine literary criticism
has me snickering.
That self-same literary criticism
has me rolling my eyes.
Every word coming from your keyboard
is meaningless claptrap.
Every word coming from your underused brain
is over-the-top nonsense.
Every word coming from your futile efforts
is utter political gibberish.
Every word you post
is nothing but irrational ideological rants.
Don't quit your day job
(if you even have one, that is)
to become a poet."
According to your definition, that's a poem. It has lines. Those lines form a set of stanzas. It has form (notice that brilliant repetition?) that enhances the content. Wow! I should win the Goodreads prize for that.

Let's not forget that the English language is a rich one, full of variety, subtlety, and nuance. Use of a generic F bomb in place of a truly descriptive word demonstrates that you have a rudimentary vocabulary and a poor grasp of the mechanics of expressing ideas and opinions. Even the award-winning "poet" above avoided use of the F bomb. I'll give him or her credit for that much.

Finally, the use of the pseudo-acronym IMO makes you look even more ignorant - like a twitter bird-brain. Yet you criticize the grammar and misspellings of others. Can you say "hypocrite"? Or better yet, do you even know what it means?

I'm sure that the "genius" you think you are can arrive at many other ineffectual ways to insult me and everyone else who disagrees with you, but you are not worth a second more of my valuable time. So insult and F bomb away. Read "1984" too, while you're at it. You might learn something from it. Have fun. I won't waste another syllable on your ignorance.

message 30: by Ibikunle (new)

Ibikunle Laniyan My poetry book certainly the most voluminous poetry book worldwide by a single poet will soon hit market about 3,000pages overtaking Shanahmeh by Ferdowsi an iranian then persian.i prefer the world largest publisher penguin random house,to publish it and then New York Times,world largmest newspaper to review it. some poems are published on my blog-www.kunlemicrofinance.blogspot.com. If anybody get a contact with company literary agent,you contact me on my mail -ibikabram@gmail.com or my mobile pls call - 2349036790644 .Thanx

message 31: by Ibikunle (new)

Ibikunle Laniyan Am an obscuratist-poet that is making poetry difficult to understand and it requires a translator to peruse my lines for the general lines. Can anyone explain my thoughts ? if so,then go to my blog and read two poems-'Burrowing fields' and 'a swamp on misty mountains'

message 32: by Marius (new)

Marius S Evers☯n wrote: "Why This Tripe Got Selected!
Like so many other creative outlets, GR is being run by liberal ideologues, and anything (by anyone) entered into this Fake Contest that does not fit into or suit the..."

You speak truth.

message 33: by stellajames (new)

stellajames Congratulation! Very true, everything you've written. Good poem. I'm surprised by some of the more virulent comments posted, I didn't think those people read.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Apparently low-grade tripe like this Deported The Contest!

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