Please join Front Porch in congratulating the winning response from Layla Benitez-James and the honorable mention response from Amy Braziller.

Winning Response

Layla Benitez-James

¿Qué es?/What is?

¿Qué es tener e entender      What is having and understanding
para una mujer negra            for a black woman
u otra?                                       or other?

No dudo que                           I don´t doubt
leyes de nieve                         that laws of snow
me ama                                    love me
cuando me canse—               when I tire—
se dice, por supuesto,           it’s said, of course,
que es una forma                   that it’s a
agradable                                 pleasant way
de ir.                                         to go.

Considerar otras:                   Consider others:
el nido, lleno de verde,          the nest, full of green,
o muros perfectos,                  or perfect walls,
su presencia de fría,               their cold presence,
ágil influencia—no,                agile influence—no,
no, no, no come                      no, no, don’t eat
nieve, no—                               snow, no—
no es la posesión                    it’s not the possession
ni fina color                             nor fine color
sino…                                        but…


Layla Benitez-James even gave us a look into her process:

“This response falls under the ¨complete departure¨ category, although the theme of manners/mannered speaking made its way across languages. After I began to play around with composing a poem in English, I was struck by the word ¨que¨ or ¨what¨ leaping out at me from ¨etiquette¨ and decided it would be interesting to try and carve out a Spanish poem from the letters of the English. The exercise really made me stretch how I engaged with the text as words ceased to be anything more than containers for potential letters and I was also hard-pressed to steer the poem where I wanted.”

Honorable Mention

Amy Braziller

Manners Erased

His ridicule and contempt would insure: laws
cast off, failed politeness amongst people who boast
powerful men allowed to force intercourse.

Proof strictly arbitrary rules not details of daily life.


Amy Braziller gave us a look to into her erasure process:

“When I first read the excerpt, I couldn’t help but consider the lack of etiquette/adherence to a set of manners that we’re seeing amongst all the sexual allegations/political powers of late. My challenge in creating this erasure poem revolved around taking elevated language and a 19th century sensibility and translating it to the 21st century. I printed the original piece, started circling words in pencil, letting intuition and the current political climate guide my process. I circled back and back, revising my choices, until I found the right combination to repurpose into “Manners Erased.”


Layla Benitez-James (Austin, 1989) is currently based in Alicante, Spain. Her writing has appeared in The San Antonio Express-News, Acentos Review, Matter, Guernica, and Autostraddle. Translations can be found in Waxwing and Anomaly (fka Drunken Boat). Poems translated into Spanish are published in Revista Kokoro, La Caja de Resistencia and La Galla Ciencia Numero IV. Audio essays about translation can be found at Asymptote Journal Podcast. She currently works with the Unamuno Author Series in Madrid as their Director of Literary Affairs.

Amy Braziller is a former punk rocker, sometimes banjo twanging foodie, and current Professor of English at Red Rocks Community College, located just outside Denver, CO. Publications include Hippocampus, Entropy, Split Rock Review, Crack the Spine, Punchnel’s. Amy is working on a hybrid memoir related to her punk rock days in NYC. She writes about food, film, music, GLBT issues, and social media distractions at