“Taking Shape” NYU Student Writing Prize Winners: David Lamb

November 10, 2020

Congratulations to Lucie Taylor, first place winner in the Grey Art Gallery’s NYU Graduate Writing Prize competition; Ruqaiyah Zarook, second place winner; and David Lamb, honorable mention. The Prizes were awarded for the best essay or poem by an NYU graduate student in response to the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, which was on view at the Grey from January 14 to March 13, 2020. The show was forced to close early due to COVID-19, and entrants worked from the full suite of images, gallery labels, and other resources available on the Grey’s website. The contest judge was Lucy Oakley, Head of Education and Programs at the Grey.


Rafa Nasiri (Tikrit, Iraq, 1940–Amman, 2013), Variations of the Horizon No. 5, 1979. Acrylic on canvas, 51 1/8 x 42 7/8 in. Collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE. From the exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s.


I dream of diaspora
by David Lamb

In fatal climbs my thoughts return to you—
Vision of the home that once we knew
A flight of fancy, another test of faith.
Chased by hope and silent desert wraiths,
To foreign lands whose languages we lack
In which we sleep and dream of coming back

We have witnessed death itself bolt down
From out of heaven, and scorch the very ground,
Babel’s tower toppled, and Eden shut
Our tongues confused, ancestral lines are cut

Let these fateful lines describe our plight
A Khatt that burns the canvas of the night,
Inscribe my pain in sweeping, soaring hand
Etched on tiles, remembered by the sand

David Lamb is a student in NYU’s MA program XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement. He expects to receive his degree in 2022.