Short Story and Poetry Contest / Winter 2010
In Rocco’s House (My Grandmother’s Poor Beginning)

Reader’s Choice winner in the 2009 Alumni Poetry Contest

When the man slams his fist down
a king’s table trembles
      Shaddup, Eat.
and she chews stopped-up words.
Why play jut-jawed rebel
wanting more, always more?
The eldest should be dutiful
cause for joy
like brothers working for scant praise
like baby sister, winsome, adored.
But that one-she’s a pistol.
His friends warn him.

Soon she’ll leave his household
and the father will die young
appendix burst from pride, she thinks,
or outsized rage.
She pictures the faulty organ:
flap lifting
steam streaming
whistle at the plant blowing
quitting time, Roc.
She comes home to a mother
of sorrows, many children, no pension.
Daily they simmer and hiss.

Years later, it will still be proclaimed—
to die from such a simple thing!
And when the company finally offered money.
And how she burned the letter in the sink.
Flame-blackened promises
for babes grown old.

In online voting, readers selected “In Rocco’s House (My Grandmother’s Poor Beginning),” by Laura Rock (BA 1986 St. Michael’s), as their favourite poem. Rock lives in Lakefield, Ontario, with her husband and four children. Her fiction and essays have appeared in the Antigonish Review, the Globe and Mail and the Peterborough Examiner.


The winners of the 2009 Alumni Short Story and Poetry Contest are Kerry Clare (BA 2002 Victoria, MA 2007) for her story “Georgia Coffee Star” and Cory Ingram(BA 2007 Woodsworth) for his poem “Bubbles.” Clare and Ingram each received $500.

The runners-up are Liam Lacey (BA 1978 Victoria) for his story Remorse and the Post-Op Denver Convention”and Luke Henry Howie for his poem “The Dog (Pic Mobert).”

Lacey also won a Readers’ Choice Award for his story. Laura Rock (BA 1986 St. Michael’s) won a Readers’ Choice Award – for her poem “In Rocco’s House (My Grandmother’s Poor Beginning)”

About the Judges

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