Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of poets who are Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC). We hope using our 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 to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.

November 2020 Poet: Donika Kelly

Photo by Ladan Osman

Love Poem: Chimera

I thought myself lion and serpent. Thought 
myself body enough for two, for we. 
Found comfort in never being lonely. 

What burst from my back, from my bones, what lived 
along the ridge from crown to crown, from mane 
to forked tongue beneath the skin. What clamor 

we made in the birthing. What hiss and rumble 
at the splitting, at the horns and beard, 
at the glottal bleat. What bridges our back. 

What strong neck, what bright eye. What menagerie 
are we. What we’ve made of ourselves.


Bestiary, Graywolf Press, 2016

Poet bio

Donika Kelly the author of the chapbook Aviarium (fivehundred places) and the full-length collection Bestiary (Graywolf). Bestiary is the winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World, Donika has also received a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. She currently lives in Iowa City and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.

To learn more about Donika Kelly, visit her website.