FREEDOM Voices Prize was established in August 2019 to recognize literary arts combatants around the world. It began as a poetry-only contest. Starting in October 2020, Freedom Voices Prize will also call for short stories, flash fiction, hybrid mix, poetry and memoir. Canadian Storyteller, Writer and Literary Curator Darcie Friesen Hossack takes over the Coordination of this global writers prize, bringing energy, creativity and literary flare.
GOAL – The Prize seeks to promote Tolerance, Human rights, Freedom of Expression and Creative Resilience among peoples of the world through writing by writing and poetry from people of all ages, in Africa and beyond.
JUDGES – Our Jury is comprised of internationally acclaimed personalities, published writers and distinguished scholars. Our current FREEDOM Voices Prize Head Judge is global Creative Writing Educationist and Poet, Dr. Michael Dickel. Other team members include Author Omwa Ombara (Kenya-USA), Poet James Coburn (Oklahoma USA) and Tracy Yvonne Breazile (USA).
FREEDOM VOICES PRIZE Project Manager
Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LA Crete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four-time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, an international award winning chef.
HEAD JUDGE- FREEDOOM Voices PRIZE
Michael (Dickel) Dekel has authored six published books and chapbooks (pamphlets) of poetry and short fiction, and published over 200 individually published poems, short stories, and non-fiction pieces, in addition to book-reviews and academic articles—under his birth name, Michael Dickel. Nothing Remembers, his most recent poetry collection, came out in 2019 from Finishing Line Press (https://tinyurl.com/y3684acu). For Fisher Features, Ltd, he wrote a successful NEH film-development grant and the script for a documentary film on Yiddish theatre. He works as a freelance editor for publishers and individual authors, co-edited Voices Israel Vol. 36 (2010), and served or continues to serve as an editor of one sort or another for several print and online literary periodicals. He has taught writing, literature, and English language in higher education in both the U.S. and Israel. Michael publishes an online blog-Zine (https://MichaelDickel.info/). He is the past chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. He holds a Bachelor’s in psychology, a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing (Fiction and Poetry concentrations), and a Doctorate in English(https://www.pw.org/directory/writers/michael_dickel)
INFLUENCER-IN-CHIEF( Freedom VOICES Prize)
Mbizo CHIRASHA, UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist. Freedom of Speech Fellow to PEN- Zentrum Deutschland,Germany. Alumni of the International Human Rights Arts Festival in New-York, USA. Literary Arts Activism Diplomatie. Globally Certified Arts Mediums Curator and Influencer. Internationally Published Page and Spoken Word Poet. Writer in Residence. Arts for Human Rights Catalyst. Core Team Member of the Bezine Arts and Humanities Project. His illustrious poetry, hybrid writings, political commentary, short fiction, book reviews and Arts Features are published in more than 400 spaces notably the Monk Arts and Soul in Magazine in United Kingdom. Atunis Poetry.com in Belgium. Demer press poetry series in Netherlands. World Poetry Almanac in Mongolia. Poesia journal in Slovenia. Bezine Arts and Humanities Webzine in USA. The Poet a Day in Brooklyn, USA. Litnet Writers Journal in South Africa. African Crayons in Nigeria. Poetry Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Pulp-pit USA. The FictionalCafe international Journal, Texas USA. Best New African Poetry series in Zimbabwe, Zimbolicious Poetry Collections in Zimbabwe
HEAD JUDGE REPORT 2019 – Poetry Chef Michael Dickel
“Poetry contest judges almost always must comment on the subjectivity of what we do. While the Freedom Prize has criteria to decide the quality of the poems, which I used, how well we I as a single reader see the fit of any given poem to those criteria has to do with myself as reader as much as to the poem itself. In this case, there were four criteria: 1.) The poem fit the stated theme of the contest, 2.) the poem was indeed poetry and not slogans and clichés, 3.) the quality of the words and language used, and 4.) the originality and creativity of the poem. The first round of judging selected a “short-list” of ten poems, from which I was asked to select and rank the three best poems. All of this done anonymously, of course.
“Another reader reading the ten poems on the short-list of poems might have found other poems of more merit for one reason or another. Reasonable readers may disagree with each other. I had the honor of being asked to select, and I have chosen three that I think stood out. However, this was not an easy task. The passion of the voices in these ten poems would come across to any reader. The music of the poems, with rhythm and rhyme flowing, consonance and assonance, sounds crafted into what we call poetry. The poet of each of these poems deserves praise both for political activism expressed as poetry and for caring for others, their people, and the world.
The Third Place poem I chose is The Buds Are Fruiting. In this highly original poem, we learn “That the seeds…” Dambudzo Marechera“…sowed in us/ have sprouted and are doing well…” and “The flowers he left slowly budding/ Have unfurled their bright petals…” Unfortunately, “fermenting corruption,” “nepotism,” and “cancerous looting” have also budded, and need to be nipped. Merechera is blamed and indicted by finger pointers. Yet, the poem ends with hope: “We, the little buds, will continue/ That work that you left unfinished.
“The Second Place poem, Echo Chamber introduced me to a new word, eobiont (a hypothetical primordial pre-life chemical) in its opening line. The poem moves from the “father” (of life?) to “Living in darkness” and moves through Sodom and Gomorrah, vampires that Christen the speaker of the poem in Hades…the speaker’s “toys, wails and anguish/ Bathing with my sweat…” This dark poem paints a vivid picture in images painted with a few words, and in these images we see and feel the suffering of Africa and its children from “That chieftain, who rules by subterfuge/ Who had fried his heart eons ago/ In glee at the cries of the babies…” This poem strongly condemns and indicts the cruelty of those in power who savor the suffering of others. Rather than taking responsibility and stopping the suffering, they savor it, and this has cost them their hearts (and souls).
“(For Ken Saro-Wiwa), my selection as the First Place poem in the Freedom Prize contest, combines the strengths of these other two poems. It speaks to an historical figure, using strong images and poetic skill to create a poem that reaches the heart, lays bare injustices, but also ends with a type of hope. After a significant date in the first line, “October 10, 1941,” we read “A sweet cry creaked into the crevices of Bori…” The repeated hard “c”— cry, creaked, crevices— pulls us along with some dread, given their contretemps to the “sweet.” The next line begins with “cascaded,” repeating that same hard “c” into “the swings of time/ into songs in a time of war.” In the next stanza we read that “Shrapnel of crude oil scarred faces of waters.” The oil goes on to “march” through farmland, destroying the environment as it goes, until “This loud silence would be treason merely set in four farcical plays.” We are given “genocide,” “warlords,” and “gallows,” along the way “the agony in the Ogoni girl became bared on the transistor radio.” And after Saro has been hung, where is the hope? “Tell the hand that cuts the mahogany, his stump has sprout fresh leaves./ This poem, a leaf, sways.” The hope comes from the poem, from poets. At least, we hope that this will be true.” — Michael Dickel, Jerusalem, November 2019
Michael Dickel (Head Judge ) has authored six published books and chapbooks (pamphlets) of poetry and short fiction, and published over 200 individually published poems, short stories, and non-fiction pieces, in addition to book-reviews and academic articles—under his birth name, Michael Dickel.