Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This is the first post in what will be a monthly series we’re curating featuring poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. This came out of a suggestion from our newsletter subscriber Dorina Pena that we were eager to implement. Thank you, Dorina! 

It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of BIWOC poets, and we hope using our modest platform to celebrate this work will expand the readership of the poets we spotlight. This series aligns with Perugia’s mission to support and promote emerging women poets; featured poems will be from poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love suggestions from our readers on poems & poets to feature.

September 2020 Poet: Kwoya Fagin Maples

This Poem Resists with Joy

Hearing her own sky-blue vowels resound
and return across the clearing, Vivienne
is finally sated. Not told—here in the green photo
of her papa’s wooded land—to shush,
be quiet, or the neighbors—
Now, her bell voice echoes
high-pitched snippets of “Row Your Boat”
unhindered by suburb or road. My little redbird.
She lies on her back on the trampoline,
her white breath coming in pants.
I want to adequately describe her here:
her fuzzy cornrowed head resting,
small body relaxed against the black top of the trampoline
her papa scrubbed clean just that morning.
All day the soapy bed dried in an uncommon January
marked with sunlight and excessive spring.
I want you to see her butterscotch face, ruddy from leaps,
breath reaching the clouds, eyes


Mend, University Press of Kentucky, 2018

Poet bio

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

To learn more about Kwoya Fagin Maples, visit her website.