4 Poems

Safia Elhillo

The first time I read one of Safia Elhillo’s poems, I immediately read it several times more. Then I went in search of more of her work. For me, such a reaction is not typical. As much as I love literature, my list of authors and works to make time for, “someday” only ever seems to grow.

But then, Elhillo’s work is far from typical. It is so sharply observed and gorgeously wrought that it demands one’s time and full attention: an investment that is richly rewarded. FUSION magazine is proud to debut four of Elhillo’s previously unpublished poems: “Ode to Swearing,” “Ode to Sugaring,” “Portrait with My Mother Calling,” and “Transport.”

— Victoria Large, Assistant Professor, FUSION Editorial Board

Ode to Swearing
back home this is the worst profanity
      what men use when they need to curse
            each other      to cut      word i only know …

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Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, and a Cave Canem Fellow, she received an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is co-winner of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, Portuguese, and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019).