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Illustration by Eman Wasef for Muftah

Writing is often a means of making a home wherever we find ourselves. Muftah explores this theme in “A Home in the World,” its first creative writing contest, in partnership with guest judge and author Saleem Haddad.

To showcase the diverse perspectives on the concept of home, we solicited fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and illustrations. In total, we received fifty-three entries, including twenty in the fiction category, eleven in the non-fiction category, and twenty-two in the poetry category. Our contest winners appear below. Many of these stories shed light on the unique human relationship to the places and people that shape our lives. At the same time, they also reflect similar themes, exploring the city, the sea, loss, love, family, and more.

Illustrator Eman Wasef contributed original artwork for each of the winning pieces. Haddad, who selected the final winners, has provided his thoughts on each piece below. We encourage our readers to contribute to the discussion by posting their reactions and questions on our website, Facebook, and Twitter pages, or by emailing them to us at [email protected].

Fiction

First Place: Ghareeb by Nadeen Almubarak

There is a lot of energy in ‘Ghareeb’. The voice lingers on you, a sense of alienation and displacement that never feels forced. When I finished reading it, I immediately wanted to go back and read it again.

Runner-up: Beirut-Trablos by Mike Azar

‘Beirut-Trablos’ tells a simple story of a journey home. There is a charm to the writing and the metaphors that give character to this piece, which paints a colorful and humorous picture of the journey.

Non-Fiction

First Place: Bahr by Danya Hajjaji

The sea comes up in a lot of the submissions, and ‘Bahr’ is a perfect evocation of finding home in our experience of the sea; a beautiful snapshot of a moment in time, where a mother and her daughters enjoy a moment of bliss swimming in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya. 

Runner-up: The Art of Forgetting, or How to Lose Oneself on a Drive by Ralph Haddad

Reading this piece feels like going on a journey: you start somewhere and end up somewhere else. There is a searching tone to the narrative that mirrors a lot of our own impulses to look for a sense of ‘home’ in different people and places. 

Runner-up: Writing My Sea by Priyanka Sacheti

I loved ‘Writing My Sea, My Home’, another piece of writing that engages with the sea. It is poetic, the sentences are stunning, and it has that rare combination of being both dream-like and heartfelt.

Poetry

First Place: Hüzün by K. Eltinaé

‘Huzun’ is beautiful, full of melancholy and pain, about grief and losing someone you love.

Runner-up: [Ho]me by Faral El-Jayoussi

‘[Ho]me’ was a wonderful poem about finding home in places, people, names, food and more.

 

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