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By Safia Elhillo

i was invented by them          the women      
steamed & sweating in the kitchen
soft bellies      a memory of money  
fallen princesses headdressed in rollers
the pins held in a mouth then brandished  
saliva glossing the puncturing end  
all our girlhoods a botched life sentence  
we point toward our jury      their silhouettes
collecting stones outside the window’s damp fog
there     down the horizon of each lacquered nail
a husband        a father at its serrated edge



Listen as Safia Elhillo reads "from GIRLS THAT NEVER DIE."

Added: Monday, January 13, 2020  /  Used with permission.
Safia Elhillo
Photo by Aris Theotokatos.

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and a 2018 Arab American Book Award, and Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House, 2021), and a novel in verse forthcoming in 2021 from Make Me A World/Random House.

She holds an MFA from The New School, a Cave Canem Fellowship, and a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. In addition to appearing widely in journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into several languages and commissioned by Under Armour and the Bavarian State Ballet. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019). She was listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30” and is a 2019-2021 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Elhillo was invited as a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (March 26-28, 2020) in Washington, DC which was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Split This Rock began a virtual poetry reading series in May 2020 which included a reading by Safia Elhillo & Eve L. Ewing on May 7, 2020.

Other poems by this author