Maritime Analyst Salim Bhimji was recently nominated as a finalist for the prestigious Montreal International Poetry Prize. Over 4,500 people entered the competition and Bhimji was subsequently nominated as a finalist by a panel of international jurors.
Bhimji's poem, Dereliction: And the ocean too weeps, begins by speaking about the virtues of the oceans and what they have, through the ages, represented. The poem moves on to speak of the damage to our oceans as alluded to by several man-made factors including climate change, carbon emissions/pollution, industrial-scale overfishing, and oil spills etc.
"I believe that poetry has the power to make people stop and think in a way that few examples of the written word can," Bhimji told NAMEPA.
Bhimji is an Executive Director and Managing Partner of Ocean Press & Publishing Ltd. He began his creative writing education at The Poetry School in London and says that he was “reasonably astonished” to discover that he was nominated a finalist for The Montreal Poetry Prize.
Read the poem and/or listen to the sound recording of the poem here, or see below!
Dereliction: And the ocean too weeps.
Through restless centuries I have powered
Heroic onslaughts by commanders
Of the great empires.
Across the ages, man has longed to unravel
The mystique that shrouds me.
The scholars of science reach
For me to uncover secrets of the past.
Pioneering men seeking out new lands
Deemed me the crowning conquest.
Mighty industries flourish because of me
And dynasties shaped, by men
Who wove their steel through me.
For entrenched within, like incipient gems,
I meld the very elements with which kingdoms
Power prosperity. Yet no man can own me.
Agile and self-replenishing
I am a mirror of the heavens,
Nestling every rhythm, in cycles rippling.
To the unwitting I am formidable.
But the same seek solace in me;
In the soft, soothing songs
That dance through my being.
I am the cradle of life for billions.
Yet, for all my elegance, I am now bereft.
Wounded. The turning tides, so harsh,
Have left me ravaged; in anguish.
How I yearn to be cherished again. Grant me the dignity
I deserve. That dignity which was once unspoken,
Then, almost broken.
To survive, I must search reach clutch
At new ways to reinvent myself.
A mere ritual since times long past.
Except these are dark days
And I face ferocious thunders ahead.
Yes, I am wrenched by the unknown.
Though known by many names, I am unique.
That I might look invincible
Is simply part of the mystique.
Beyond the drifted ocean,
A heroine’s grief; spoken.
© 2021: Salim Bhimji.
All Rights Reserved
Salim Bhimji is a Maritime Analyst who has worked across the shipping industry for over 25 years. He has been part of a team that provides intelligence to shipowners, ship operators and brokers. The data spans all major commercial shipping sectors, including tanker, chemical tanker, bulk carrier and the LNG/LPG segments. He is an Executive Director and Managing Partner of Ocean Press & Publishing Ltd. He began his creative writing education at The Poetry School in London and says that he was “reasonably astonished” to discover that he was nominated a finalist for The Montreal Poetry Prize.
Salim’s poem has now been published in an anthology, which will form part of the English Literature curriculum to be taught at several Universities across North America and beyond. The anthology is published by Véhicule Press.
The Montreal International Poetry Prize
The Montreal International Poetry Prize was founded in 2010 by the poet and critic Asa Boxer. It sponsors a global poetry competition, awarding one prize of $20,000 to one poet for a single poem every two years. The competition is supported by an international jury of poets from around the world and participants from more than 100 countries. It is managed by the Department of English at McGill University.
The competition invites online submissions of poems in English from anywhere in the world, and is judged by an eminent poet appointed by the Department of English at McGill University. In 2011 the competition was judged by former British Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion. Subsequent judges have included Don Paterson, Eavan Boland, Michael Harris, Yusef Komunyakaa and Lorna Goodison.
The $20,000 prize is the world's largest monetary prize for a single poem.