An Interview with Browning NYC Poetry Society Winner: Arlette Gindi

An Interview with Browning NYC Poetry Society Winner: Arlette Gindi

Emily Vayner ’23

This year, Arlette Gindi ‘22, Co-President of Parallax, Ramaz’s award-winning literary magazine, won the New York City High School Browning Poetry Society competition. She competed against students from 120+ public, private, and parochial schools in the five boroughs. The New York Browning Society has an annual citywide poetry competition where six student winners earn $100, and their poems get published in three publications. On Wednesday, May 11, Arlette was introduced by the Browning Society’s president James Kepple, as she read her poem “Through the Glass Pane” aloud at the ceremony for award winners. 

Emily Vayner: Can you describe the application process for the competition, including rules and restrictions on what you could submit?

Arlette Gindi: I honestly didn’t know much about the competition when I entered it. I got a short email from Dr. Honig with the name of the poetry competition and an email address to send my submissions. A few days before the deadline, I sent an email and attached PDFs of the poems I wanted to be considered. I learned later that we were only supposed to submit 1-2 poems, and I sent in four because I didn’t know about the rule, but I guess it didn’t really matter. Around a month later, I got an email saying that I was one of the winners and a package in the mail with a check, certificate, and a note about where the poem would be published.

EV: Can you describe the process of writing your poem as well as the editing process?

AG: I wrote the poem when I was a sophomore and forgot about it until I looked through my computer earlier this year. When I first wrote it, I remember it going by very quickly. I don’t think it took me more than 15 minutes to write, which is crazy to think about because it usually takes me much longer to think of the words I want to use. Before I sent it into the competition, I made a few minor edits, but I kept it mostly the way it was when I wrote it originally.

EV: What was your inspiration for your poem, “Through the Glass Pane”?

AG: I wrote “Through the Glass Pane” from the perspective of a blue jay looking in at my family through a window. The poem was mainly inspired by the way my family dynamics shifted once my grandfather passed away. I chose to write it from the perspective of a blue jay because of the birds constantly chirping outside my grandparents’ house. After my grandfather passed away, my family began to notice blue jays perched on branches wherever we were, and so the blue jay became very symbolic for us. My aunts always said it was like my grandpa would send a little angel from heaven in the form of a blue jay to watch over us. 

EV: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write poetry and apply to these kinds of competitions? 

AG: Just do it, and try not to take yourself too seriously. The worst thing that could happen is you don’t win, and you wouldn’t have won anyway if you didn’t submit anything, so you might as well just send something in and see what happens. I never expected to win a poetry competition in my life, and I would never have if I didn’t send anything in. 

EV: How did Parallax impact your writing journey? How did it contribute to your growth as a writer?

AG: I honestly wouldn’t be the writer I am today without Parallax. Sitting down every week and writing without any expectation that your work needs to be good is freeing and improves your writing so much. I think every student would gain something from going to Parallax at least once. My involvement in Parallax has definitely changed my writing for the better.