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Deralyn Owen, 2021 1st Place Poetry

Submissions for Poetry are open to one poem that was completed for coursework during the last calendar year. Submissions should not exceed 5 pages. Deralyn Owen wrote the 1st place submission in the Poetry category for the 2021 President’s Writing Awards.

About Deralyn

Deralyn Owen

Deralyn Owen is a Filipino-American born and raised in Boise, Idaho. Currently, she’s a junior studying Health Studies with an emphasis in Health Informatics and Information Management at Boise State. After being introduced to poetry by great English teachers in Junior High, she found an ever-growing enthusiasm and has kept writing since. Outside of academics, Dearlyn likes to cross-stitch, make music and try to keep her plants alive (usually in vain).

Broken Lips

She is embarrassed by her English, but even more so

by her Bisaya. My mother never taught me how to speak

the tongue of her mother; she was scared it would make

my English worse, that it would dilute my Americanness. I once

told my Filipino friends my mother’s maiden name and they

started laughing. Sorry, you just sound so American when

you say it. I am embarrassed by my clunky Western tongue,

one that cannot pronounce


naglibog                      confused


kinahanglan                need


Pwede ko nimo            Can you help

tabangan?                   me?


Pasayloa ko.               I’m sorry.


My sister comes home from work early and catches me with

Bisaya on my lips. Shame morphs to silence; I look over the words

noiselessly. The letters are familiar but their combinations are not. I

have tried learning their shapes so many times, cracked lips whispering

naglibog, naglibog, naglibog until my throat is dry. The other day,

someone asked me where I was from. I told them I was

Filipino-American. The phrase coated my lips, thick and viscous,

and burnt them red.