Kwoya Fagin Maples


Kwoya Fagin Maples is a writer from Charleston, S.C. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and is a graduate Cave Canem Fellow.  Maples is a current Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Fellow.  She is the author of Mend (University Press of Kentucky, 2018) a finalist for the 2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry and finalist for the 2019 Housatonic Poetry award. In addition to a chapbook publication by Finishing Line Press entitled Something of Yours (2010) her work is published in several journals and anthologies including Blackbird Literary Journal, Obsidian, The Langston Hughes Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, The African-American Review, Pluck!, Tin House Review Online and Cave Canem Anthology XIIIMend tells the story of the birth of obstetrics and gynecology in America and the role black enslaved women played in that process. This work received a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation. Prior to publication, Mend was also the 2017 finalist for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. Maples teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama, home of the Black Warrior Review. Source

Here's an Ocean Tale

My brother still bites his nails to the quick,

but lately he’s been allowing them to grow.

So much hurt is forgotten with the horizon

as backdrop. It comes down to simple math.


The beach belongs to none of us, regardless

of color, or money. We all come to sit

at the feet of the surf, watch waves

drag the sand and crush shells for hours.


My brother’s feet are coated in sparkly powder

that leaves a sticky residue when dry.

He’s twenty-three, still unaware of his value.

It is too easy, reader, for me to call him


beautiful, standing against the sky

in cherrywood skin and almond

eyes in the sun, so instead I tell him

he is handsome. I remind him


of a day when I brought him to the beach

as a boy. He’d wandered, trailing a tourist,

a white man pointing toward his hotel—

all for a promised shark tooth.


I yelled for him, pulled him to me,

drove us home. Folly Beach. He was six.

He almost went.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age


Memory & The Past


Literary Devices:


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


a break between words within a metrical foot


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


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure