Oakland Arts Review is proud to announce the winners of the 2017 Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prize in Poetry and Nonfiction. The contest invited undergraduates currently enrolled in degree-granting colleges in the United States to submit their best essays and poems that address the experience of being Muslim in America. The winning pieces are:
First: Citizen, by Dalia Elhassan (The New School)
Second: Al-Kafirah (The Unbeliever), by Mahalia Sobhani (Northwestern University)
First: Echoes, by Ameena Chaudry (University of Iowa)
Second: Untitled, by Sena Cebeci (Princeton University)
Honorable Mention: Careful, by Zaynab Zaman (Princeton University)
While the authors did not have to identify as Muslim to be awarded the prize, each piece had to speak in some way to the experience — joys and challenges — of being Muslim in America today, or describe components of the American Muslim experience in ways that educate and inform our readers. The first prize in each category will be $500 and publication in OAR, the second prize will be $300 and publication, and honorable mention is simply publication.
OAR are interested in reaching out to undergraduates in all areas of academia who are interested in presenting the vibrancy and complexity of the American Muslim experience. We think this is an important contest at this moment in time. We hope that art can be a powerful vehicle for dialogue and understanding.
The prize was made possible through a grant from Dr. Hamid & Amy Sheikh, set up by Dr. Sheikh to honor his late mother, Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh, and foster a greater understanding of Islam.