Friday, April 27, 2018

NPM 4-27: Poems by Safia Elhilllo

All this month I've been sharing poems as they move me. I've made an effort to read new to me poets and poems. Today I'm sharing poems by Safia Elhillo, a poet I learned about when I saw this advertisement during the Olympics. The poem is called Kintsugi.

Here's another poem by Elhillo.

ars poetica

“Autobiography practiced in the enemy’s language has the texture of fiction.”
– Assia Djebar, Fantasia

in ohio i tell a classroom of white students a story i mean to be beautiful
about my grandfather      retreating in his old age to his first tongue

in which there are no separate words for like & love      once at a restaurant
meaning    i think    to say i would like some tomato soup     repeats

to our flustered waitress      i love tomato soup      i love tomato soup
& the white students & the white professors like my story     they think i mean it

to be comic    the room balloons with their delight      they are laughing
at my grandfather & it is my fault    for carving tendernesses from my old life

without context      parading to strangers my weak translations
now they think i am joking & lap     at my every dripping word

& isn’t this why i learned this language      to graduate
from my thick & pungent newness      my accent & my nameless shoes       to float

my hands like a conductor         redirect the laughter to a body not my own
for a moment of quiet inside my traitor’s head

I  do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday friends.


  1. Thank you for the introduction to a new-to-me poet. This is such a powerful poem.

  2. Very strong poem–opens our eyes, thanks for sharing it!

  3. Oh how we misunderstand one another...thank you for sharing this, Tricia. So glad to know of Safia's work! (each wound filled with sunlight... love!) xo

  4. Oh, that SECOND ONE just guts me.
    It's so difficult to learn a new language, and to share your personal stories within it - it's not impossible, but the twist that she maybe did it to share the burden of all of the eyes and expectation on her with a grandfather who could not protest... that's so painful. And so perfectly expressed, after all...