SPS welcomes Poet Safia Elhillo February 12th

By - February 7th, 2018


On Monday, February 12th, Safia Elhillo will be giving a poetry workshop and reading at Ohrstrom Library – see our event listing for details. Safia is the author of The January Children and the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, Crescendo Literary, and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me. She is currently a teaching artist with Split This Rock.

Ohrstrom Library has Safia’s book, The January Children, available:

The January Children-

“Elhillo contemplates the meaning of home and what it means to belong in a taut debut collection of heartfelt poems that speak to the push-and-pull predicament specific to people who can claim multiple cultural identities, and whose identities reflect multiple geographies.” – Publishers Weekly

Safia has also supplied the library with a list of recommended readings, including these titles:

Autobiography of Red– Anne Carson

“In lyric mode, the scholar and poet Anne Carson has created, from fragments of the Greek poet Stesichorus, a profound love story — a reverie on the mystery of one person’s power over another, seen through the double lens of scholarship and verse… a hybrid work of poetry and prose that includes witty critical reflections on Stesichorus and an imaginary interview with him.”  – Ruth Padel, The New York Times

Ancestors– Kamau Brathwaite

“Brathwaite sketches a vast, economically determined history encompassing the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and the Middle East–as if the shadows of Prospero, Caliban and Miranda extended from the plantation (a frequent setting) across the globe, fiercely throwing exploitation, misery, loneliness, joy, celebration, dignity and humanity into bold, intensely detailed relief… Derek Walcott and Jamaica Kincaid may get all the press, but Brathwaite is one of the most significant Caribbean-born writers of the 20th century and is recognized as such by academia if not by trade readers.”- Publishers Weekly

Incendiary Art– Patricia Smith

“Using the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till as her anchor, Smith explores how the lives of black Americans get cut short by racism, particularly by white fear of black masculinity… Smith exhibits razor-sharp linguistic sensibilities that give her scenes a cinematic flair and her lines a momentum that buoys their emotional weight…  Smith’s urgent collection lives up to its title, burning bright and urgent as a bonfire.” – Publishers Weekly

The Black Maria– Aracelis Girmay

“Girmay crafts a moving collection of lyrical, image-thick poems that balance on the knife edge separating vulnerability and unapologetic strength. The ideas of diaspora, alienation, and separation—whether borne by the devastating legacies of slavery or the heartbreaking necessities of political asylum—are viewed as the repetitious and stubborn waves of history. However, these ideas are never treated as the heritage or sole narrative of particular peoples, but rather an indictment of colonialism and nationalism. Girmay effortlessly slips between collective history and personal memory, tackling the subject of black pain without victimizing herself or exploiting the voices of the marginalized.”- Publishers Weekly

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