Safia Elhillo


Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and an Arab American Book Award, Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House 2021), and the novel in verse Home Is Not A Country (Make Me A World/Random House, 2021). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, 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. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee (receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize), co-winner of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30.” Safia’s work appears in POETRY Magazine, Callaloo, and The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, among others, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and The Penguin Book of Migration Literature. Her work has been translated into several languages, and commissioned by Under Armour, Cuyana, and the Bavarian State Ballet. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019). She is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and lives in Oakland. Source

Self-Portrait without Stitches

after Tarfia Faizullah


i was hurt      i wasn’t      i saw it

on the internet      licked yogurt

from a spoon while the girls

described their blood      hot      seizing

the cotton of a sheet      i am speaking

from the cut place      from my other

mouths      do not believe me for i

was never cut      or      i was hurt but

never sewn      or      i wasn’t      i want

-ed it      i didn’t      i screamed      i didn’t

i bit down      i bled      i didn’t      i click

through pictures of the girls      moonfaced

thick-cheeked      still fastened      to the

roundness of childhood      consider

the softness of my jaw      my face without

angles      without edges      i covered

i cowered      i didn’t      i cried      i came to

i click & learn their names      incant them

i learn the names of the stones      the theory

it wasn’t me      i think of all the ways

we match      it could have been      it

couldn’t      consider the cut place      thick

liquid      of citizenship    spilling from

my many mouths      uncut      my many

uncut mouths





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Body & Body Image


Violence & War


Literary Devices:

After Poems

A poem where the form, theme, subject, style, or line(s) is inspired by the work another poet.


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


a break between words within a metrical foot


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic