Read The Runners-Up (College)

Mar 18, 2013

In April, we invited unpublished writers to submit their work as part of our Write South Florida contest. There were three categories in the contest: Amateur, College, and Children.  These are the runners-up from the contest in the College category.

Mommy the Commie and Me

by Sadie Kurzban

My mother is the only Cuban communist I know. Sometimes I think she’s the only one in the world. My father, a white Jewish man, practically considers himself a Haitian refugee, part of the immigrant struggle. Every time we see a black person around Miami, my dad insists on greeting him with an enthusiastic sac passé, “what’s up” in Creole. My little brother aspires to become the next Che Guevara and was reading the Communist Manifesto at the tender age of twelve. Where does that put me?

My parents fear that they are raising the next Posner, Hooke, or Horowitz, just another right winger betraying her good communist roots. For me, it’s really not like that. I love and respect my parents, I truly do. But over the years, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to fit a square inside a circle. My parents raised me to always question authority and their beliefs are no exception to the rule.

Like starting a car engine or turning on a light switch, my family’s nonconformity is just part of everyday life. Ever Googled your parents? Well, try these: “Magda Montiel Davis” and “Ira Kurzban.” It’s not that I’m annoyed or that I don’t understand their views. Sometimes, though, it’s a little painful watching two groups fight so blindly for their cause, they forget about common sense or consideration.

In Miami, Cubans constantly protest against Castro’s ills and the Venezuelans preach against Chavez’s inhumanity. Everyone, it seems, awaits Fidel’s death to throw a huge parade. My mother, of course, trusts that this will never happen; her hero, her state, her politics are forever indefatigable. She shrugs off the view of Miami Cubans, branding it right-wing, reactionary propaganda. Every time I bring a new boyfriend home, she insists he come to Cuba with us on our next trip. She tells him of her island of paradise where everyone has health care, a warm meal, and a bed in which to sleep.

I cannot dismiss one form of propaganda and favor another. How can I agree with my mother and ignore the poverty in Cuba? Likewise, I cannot listen to the exile Cubans in Miami without noticing the drastic gap in our own country between rich and poor. I feel an obligation to my parents to defend Communism in heated round-table discussions at school. But at the same time, I see a crumbling state before my eyes, one where my generation begs their Miami relatives for i-pods, failing to see the “greater good for the greatest number.”


Bio: Sadie Kurzban is from Miami, where she graduated valedictorian and student body president from Ransom Everglades. She now attends Brown University in Providence, RI, where she thinks of double majoring in Latin American Studies and Public Policy. Sadie’s love is Salsa dance. Her biggest fear is Newt Gingrich. This summer she will be volunteering full-time as an English teacher for underprivileged middle school students at Breakthrough Miami.


Maggot Brain

by Matthew Lenz-Diaz

for the Dead and Miles Davis

A forty oz. and cigar

should numb my face

for the evening

The Banyan leaves

should shade

your burning cheeks

I said with a humbled belly

A heartfelt humm

is a cinnamon dry soul

behind the breastplate

a Jet Plane roar competing with the Seraphim

How can you hallucinate


Illusions of God-men

and Star Children

of perfections and


may I ask?

Assembled with clay

and free to move through dimensions

Past grocery stores and hairshops

Pharmacies and palms

under the sky dome

How do we go about anything at all?

He grew a painful

Morning Glory from his palm

For the sake of bus fare

Revealed his divinity for

a transfer

made wine to get around

dear Merlin

Impressed the city

with unattatched pages of his babbles

flowing from his grip

Water ball soul, well oiled engine

Hydrated system

lubricated brain


Bio: Matthew Lenz-Diaz, a philosophy student at Miami-Dade College, is a runner-up in our college writers catagory. His poem Maggot Brain was inspired by Miles Davis’s album Bitches Brew and by Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. He enjoys poetry and music.




by Christine Nanio

When day surrenders to time’s forceful hand,

the light will burn out and dark will roam free.

The blazing sphere retreats into the sand,

twilight is gorged, dawn drowns into the sea.

Colors expelled from a prism, they fly,

as red as a rose, blues like sapphire.

Twirling ballerinas across the sky,

they mesh together, combust like fire.

Like a candle extinguished by the wind,

or flickering lights, faulty fluorescents.

The sunlight subsides; dusk waits for day’s end,

shadows prevail, invade silver crescent!

Like clockwork, the illumination dies

but death brings life, and so the moon will rise.


Bio: Christine Nanio is a communications student at Florida Gulf Coast University. She has danced ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop from a young age and loves painting and drawing. She graduated Cum Laude from the International Baccalaureate Program at Fort Myers High School and currently lives with her family in Cape Coral. Christine enjoys creative writing and keeps a dream journal.

Funding for this episode provided by a grant from The Florida Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.