safia rhymes with mafia

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apensivesoul asked: Is there a new chapbook in the near future??

hopefully! i have to turn in a full manuscript for school next spring as my thesis, but have also been working on a small chapbook of poems for one of my classes this semester that i might expand over the summer :)

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he calls me a “maneater.” i study a crack in the wall until it blinks. he wants me to be sorry for not loving him and i want to be sorry for not loving him because good people are supposed to love other good people and he is a good man and this is the only way to prove my own goodness, even if loving him just means unpacking all my suitcases and making my eyes look like i’m listening. but i’ve spent months tamping down the sky trapped inside my body, months sitting with my hands in my lap. and for that i say, i cannot allow myself to believe that love is nothing but a reward for good behavior. for that i say, i don’t want to eat you, little boy. you are not my brand of firewood.

Safia Elhillo (aka susie knuckles aka ethnic bethanie aka nosering nancy aka delilah aka phyllis aka jawn coltrane aka frida cashflow aka susan switchblade aka elusive lucy aka gilderoy glockhart aka dobby digital aka carmen sand diego aka anita maneater aka apricot jones aka cruella el hill. )

(Source: faithevebee)

Filed under poemsorwhatever

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I really believe that applying poetry, or language in general, to trauma is the ultimate act of reclaiming. Naming something gives you a sort of ownership over it (hey, colonialism did it all the time, haha), so choosing words that identify your experience makes it less of this looming unknown that has you at its mercy. It makes everything less ‘something that happened to me’ and more ‘experience/story that belongs to me,’ you know?
Safia Elhillo, interviewed for The Body Narratives (via bostonpoetryslam)

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Aghani—Safia Elhillo

my mother harbors my countries music in her lungs

these songs the only things she got in the divorce

there is a tv show we used to watch when we lived in egypt

where a group of sudanese youth sing old sudani love songs

we don’t get the channel here in the u.s.

tonight, mother finds every episode on youtube

after a quiet dinner of leftovers at the kitchen counter because

it is just us two

my brother is out being 18 and popular

my mother and I sit together in the half light

and eat mango with our hands

and listen to (couldn’t catch the names) sing fil tayf

and I never hear love songs like this in english

songs that are as much about a country as they are about a woman

songs where woman is country

before we grew bitter and learned not to make a world out of a person

learned not to make a world out of a country

because even your mothers country can betray you

my mother’s country broke her heart and I want to cry

picturing her eating mango alone in the dark,

singing to herself

my brother and I a world away with our fast english

and our hip hop and our late nights

we are not from a world where love songs are like this

we are not romantic

we are not considerate, we forget to call

we do not bother to phone the cable people to ask for the channel with my mother’s favorite show

we do not bother to teach her how to book mark videos on youtube

how to download all the old love songs on itunes

how to buy mango already sliced,

packaged in neat plastic tubs

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mali77 asked: Please do, Toronto is beautiful in the summer. I was at your show last November and it was incredible. I also couldn't build the courage to say hello after the show, so hello! I'm gonna stop sounding like a creep now lol.

You are lovely and really kind- hello to you too! :)

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these muscles, long-colonized by stillness
this barbaric loneliness, the way it seizes the body
the rotating thousand names painted into you to fight it

this pride, this heavy skin,
this silence and its fateful stain
peoples the blood with all the bodies you’d choose over you own

you can pick the fattest cloud and give it your name
just to belong to something that isn’t shackled to you by love

you can kiss an entire orchestra and imagine that every song
after that is yours. you can treat all your selves as a revolving door, your spine the center point, you can tread water.

you can walk all the world with one tear ready.

Safia Elhillo, portrait  (via loveouthome)

from The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles :) [which you can be fancy and get on ebook now!]

(Fun fact: the first draft of this poem was an erasure of “Triumph” by Wu-Tang)

Filed under poemsorwhatever

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deonteosayandepoetry asked: So, what are the odds of getting you to return to Detroit? because I know a couple of folks that need to see you again, ex: Me, and Legacy.

yoo just let me know i would loveeee to go back!

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mali77 asked: When are you coming back to Toronto?

hopefully soon, i loved it there! if any venues/schools/organizations are interested i can be reached for booking at

also i might just go up to hang out when the weather gets better :)

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Anonymous asked: if you can only have one snack (oreos, a certain chocolate...) for the rest of your life, which would it be?


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Anonymous asked: OMG you don't know me but I'm at this store in Philly and I saw this shirt that said "Keep Calm, I'm Nubian" and totally freaked and thought of you :), so I decided to drop into your ask box. Peace

why am i just seeing this ahaha you’re awesome

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Anonymous asked: Would you ever consider putting out a spoken word album of your work? I would buy it!


i actually don’t know the answer to this, haha. at the moment i’m up to my neck in unfinished projects so it wouldn’t be the right time, but i’ll also never say never :) thanks lovely!