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2013 Teens Between Cultures Prose Contest Winner

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I'm delighted to announce the winner of the 11th annual Mitali's Fire Escape Teens Between Cultures Prose Contest. In the past, I've award three prizes (first, second, third), but this year I decided to pick only one. Here it is—enjoy.


Bridging the Gap 
by Tran D., Age 16

“It was a rough marriage. She left him...” My mom spoke into the phone in Vietnamese, “Poor thing, he lives alone now. He rents the house from an old landlady.”

“Is she talking about Chú Bích?” I asked my sister from the backseat.

Chú Bích is my uncle—”chú” implied that he was my dad’s younger brother. I can’t recollect any memory of him but I distinctly remember getting trouble for stealing a picture of him and his bride because it was the prettiest thing five year old me had seen. He had let me keep it and take it with me to America. It still sits in one of the many dusty albums closed away in my parents’ bedroom.

I stared out the window on the drive home, but still intently listening to the conversati…

Introducing OPEN MIC Contributor Greg Neri

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I'm proud to showcase the nine authors who collaborated with me on OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (an anthology published 9.10.13 by Candlewick Press). Publishers Weekly had this to say about our book:
... As Perkins notes, “Humor has the power to break down barriers and draw us together across borders,” and the stories within bear that out ... In “Under Berlin,” written in verse, G. Neri describes a “game” that a biracial American family plays on the German subway: seeing how quickly two elderly white women will change seats after the black father sits between them ... Today I'm delighted to introduce you to my friend Greg Neri, author of "Under Berlin," a story in verse that's eighth in the OPEN MIC lineup. Here are a few paragraphs from the middle of the piece that showcase Greg's mastery of voice:

"Why can't we take a taxi?" I ask.
"You all gonna pay for it, Reina? asks Daddy,
his southern twang
more out of place
than w…

2013 Teens Between Cultures Poetry Contest Winner

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I'm delighted to announce the winner of the 11th annual Mitali's Fire Escape Teens Between Cultures Poetry Contest. In the past, I've award three prizes (first, second, third), but last year I decided to pick only one and I'm doing the same this year. This made judging the contest harder than ever. After a long decision-making process, please enjoy the 2013 Fire Escape Teens Between Cultures Poetry Contest winner.


Third Eyeby Alice L.

I grew up in the Midwest
Where oceans of gold-streaked cornfields
Swayed under the sun
And skies stretched like weary skin,
Wrinkled with seasons.

The Midwest grew recessive eyes
Almost as easily as it grew corn.
Among the fair-haired, blue-eyed children,
I was always a stranger, an alien –
A creature of far-away origins.
I could never be one of them.

We were separated by something
I could not quite understand then.
It was not so much that strangers questioned
My dark hair and epicanthic folds
And the slight lilt of my tongue.

It was …