Daria-Ann Martineau Wins 2011 Student Poetry Contest

Daria-Ann Martineau is the winner of a $500 prize for her poem “Orchids.”

The English Department congratulates senior Daria-Ann Martineau, a speech and hearing major and creative writing minor, for her poem “Orchids,” which won this year’s Student Poetry Prize, awarded to the best poem submitted by a student at George Washington University. Martineau’s poem, originally written for Prof. Gregory Pardlo’s ENGL 107 class last fall, was the unanimous choice of the three faculty judges, who called it “exceptionally well crafted as well as bold and substantive.”

In addition to being an accomplished poet, Daria-Ann is secretary of GW’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association and corresponding secretary of GW’s Caribbean Students Organization. Thanks to Daria-Ann for her kind permission to publish her poem below.


Needle to my ribcage,
the tattooist imprints the flowers.
My pores break open at the seal
where he places the tip,
unleashing pearls of blood
that blend into purple.

I have chosen this emblem
after seeing orchids in a wedding.
I fell in love:
with corollas meshed into the bride’s veil
and centred in her bouquet.
The petals–
jewel hues against white dress–
protruding as defiant tongues,

The convolutions of their shape,
wine-coloured communion
            spilling into concavity.
Undeniable as pure sin.

At home I disrobe,
view my beautifully crafted scar,
remember how orchids first pierced me,
a breathy Oh buds   at my mouth.

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