by Amir Safi
1st Place – Flash 405, June 2017: “Nemesis”
I hate you autocorrect. You tool of the colonizers you unleashed giant hound you red coated Clifford you empty throat threat you squiggly adjective-questioning editor. Who do you think you are telling me my name is spelled wrong?
Unexpected, clever, and relatable, this is exactly the sort of piece I was hoping for when I wrote the “Nemesis” prompt. Though autocorrect seems a trivial problem, I love the darker threads underlying the piece about colonization through language. It brings to mind the themes in—COMPARATIVE LITERATURE GEEK ALERT—Decolonizing the Mind, a series of essays by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Ngũgĩ posits that European colonists used culture and language “…to annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages…and ultimately in themselves,” and this poem provides an interesting extension of this concept for the twenty-first century. This piece piece not only made me laugh, but also gave me a chance to geek out about literary criticism and was a clear win for me.
Amir Safi is from College Station and based out of Houston, Texas. His poetry is the result of a fusion between his Iranian culture and his Texan upbringing. He is a 2017 Houston Poet Laureate Finalist, and his work has been featured in Texas Monthly, Whataburger, Huffington Post, Upworthy, BuzzFeed, Texas Standard, Total Frat Move, and more.