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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

2nd Place - Gayathiri Kamalakanthan

Our second place winner, emerging writer, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan:


We bodies are not

sex / or gender / I be / breathless bitter before these brats / who say Miss Miss Miss /

skinning my sleep aloud / I am he they she / I say quiet / I cannot teach your empiric

Science / a project of stripping / bleaching this altar / I beg / Pa would you dare to love me /

more or less / if I had a penis / donging between panicked smiles / sharing her live location /

head on the dancefloor / skitting lips / sundown and son dead? / Ardhanārīśvara would you

dare to love me / more or less? / In my vulval dreams / I do stroke the length of my shaft /

clitoral hood retracts / softens back when I can’t finish / Eighteen months later I no longer

teach bodies / touch bodies / Mine no different / I am / sexless / feckless / peerless / Pa

less / cuntless / countless / endless / Did you know a group of dicks isn’t always called a

waste? / Did you know a group of brown bodies is always called a blessing?

All Rights. Gayathiri Kamalakanthan


An Interview with Gayathiri:

Tell us a little about your writing journey to date:

I started writing poetry during the first lockdown in 2020. I joined a free online poetry course run by Writerz and Scribez which totally transformed my understanding of what poetry could do. I was introduced to poets like Shivanee Ramlochan, R. A. Villanueva, Lucille Clifton and Claudia Rankine. When I'm stuck I go back to these poets and read their words out loud. Their work reminds me that we can play with words before we commit to them. I've been working in sex education for 5 years and it feels good to have this creative space to reckon with the ways in which transphobia, racism and sexual violence uphold one another. What appeals to you about short-form poetry?

So I have a pain condition which means I can't type for very long. When I'm not physically typing I'm often lying down/stretching/walking and repeating words to myself. My brain can hold about 2 sentences without forgetting them and I'll be editing in my head before being able to type. So all of this lends itself to short-form poetry. I also love the sort of creative gymnastics and precision you work towards to condense a story or feeling into a few lines. Why did you apply for this competition?

I really enjoy the memes on the MONO Instagram page. Like 'MILF= Manuscript I'd like to finish'. It's a reflective/salty/'I see you' feeling I'd like some of my poems to have. It feels like MONO's expanding our culture around poetry. What poet/s inspire your work?

Alok Vaid-Menon, Akwaeke Emezi, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Chen Chen, Kim Moore.

Congratulations Gayathiri!

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