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The Year I Was A Boy

I’m not sure how much I was aware of my intention to become a boy. I never verbalized it, and I knew it wasn’t something that was actually possible. I just wanted to be more of a boy than I was a girl. I’m not sure I understand gender very well, even as an adult woman, but as a child, all I saw was that, in a literal way, boys had it better.

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Couplets by Ghalib

But we could never escape the weight of those final weeks in Dhaka, what we had lost and what we had faced. We couldn’t forget my father’s blank expression before he left our flat for the last time, in search of supplies the day the war ended, nor the barbaric shrieks and shots that resounded through the window during the riot that ensued. We couldn’t forget the dark and bloated bodies on the road, or my own mother’s choking sobs, screaming my father’s name as we searched. In Calcutta, these memories enveloped us with tension as tangible as the white cloth we had placed over our father, after we found him a few streets from our building, already smelling of rot. Now, as I slashed Faisal’s ping-pong paddle like a boy, I felt this shroud beginning to unravel.

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Colorful Image from Canva


My cousin floats on her back a few feet away.
She’s the most beautiful thing—

Five years older & mean,
she used to kick me in my sleep.

We lie facedown on the concrete dock
as a hawk circles us.

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Spring 2021 (MQR60) Issue Cover with MQR 60 Logo

MQR Issue 60:2, Spring 2021

Announcing the release of MQR 60:2, Our Emerging Voices Issue Cover art by Eduardo Paolozzi, courtesy of UMMA and Diane Kirkpatrick Table of Contents Forward Khaled Mattawa: Celebrating Our Emerging Writers Fiction Anitha Ahmed: Couplets by Ghalib Samantha Barron: Everybody Wins Anu Kandikuppa: Everything is Going to Come Annell López: The End of the World

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2 Images of Emerging Writers Cover Art

Foreword: Celebrating Our Emerging Writers

In the words of Stephanie Glazier, we, having gotten to what seems like a cultural and political impasse, are seeking “something that means / not only sings praise.” And as if responding to the same impulse, Yun Wei tells us that we need to go beyond our familiar routes or roads, we must invent ways of moving and growing that will carry us with them and assure us that “this is not the end.”

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Nye flawlessly writes about the power in prayer, in letting go of rage and the past, that by the end of the poem, we are left thinking of our loved ones and what we’ve learned from them – and how that knowledge lives in our bodies.

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