|Safia Elhillo (Busboys & Poetry)|
Safia Elhillo, a Sudanese writer "by way of Washington, DC," received her MFA from New School University, and was a joint winner of the 2015 Brunel Poetry Prize. She also is a Fellow of Cave Canem and poetry editor at the journal Kinfolks, and will have a chapbook, also titled Asmarani, appearing as part of the New Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tatu), from the African Poetry Book Fund with Akashic Books.
Congratulations also go to this year's five 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize finalists: Nick Makoha (Uganda), a London resident, for his manuscript Kingdom of Gravity; D. M. Aderibigbe (Nigeria), for his manuscript Becoming My Mother’s Son; Viola Allo, (Cameroon), living in California, for her manuscript Schoolgirl from Cameroon; Shittu Fowora (Nigeria), for his manuscript Touch Machines; and Nebeolisa Okwudili (Nigeria), for his manuscript country!
Here is one of Safia Elhillo's poems, from Big Lucks, Issue 11, December 2015. It gives a sense of her work as a whole, but do check out both the forthcoming chapbook and the entire collection, which will be out next year!
SELF-PORTRAIT WITH YELLOW DRESS i believe that sometimes we do not die i will not believe that to be housed in a body that is black is to be dressed always in black for the funeral we live forever our mouths open & a song falls out thick with a saxophone’s syrup & all our dead in the ground make this land ours & all our missing fathers make us everything’s child today i did not dress for a funeral today i wear the yellow dress & laugh with all my teeth today my lost ones are not lost to me they live in the wind that gathers my skirt today this is my country today i say their names & the all holes left behind shaped like blackgirls & blackboys are lit up by hundreds of faraway stars today i woke up & was not dead & tomorrow might be different but tomorrow does not yet exist so i hold my mother’s hand & kiss the brown valley between each knuckle my brother opens his mouth to laugh & the light pours in through the gap in his teeth & no one will ever again say my eyes are too serious i press my body to a man that i find beautiful & sway to a song that knows us i live forever with my feet in my grandmother’s lap & i live forever by the water with the sun spilled over me remember me this way & when they come for me play the song i love into the space i leave behind
Copyright © Safia Elhillo, and Big Lucks, 2016. All rights reserved.