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.

July 2021 Poet: Shanta Lee

In Fugue Woke States of In-Between

It was really an asylum
They forced us to say

what getting out means,
well tell them, we gonna set

boundaries. Anotha speak 
for protection circles, a kinda 

speak for we set boundaries to 
break others. In the shadow of the

street lights that never go out—
280 Collins Street, in Mama’s lap, in

wherever all things gone missing be—
it wasn’t about any of these places, but

how well you be walking backwards counting 
all the things between wake, fugue, and 

woke, how well you be multilingual 
in signs, fluent in breaking silences,

gain mastery in transmutation, most
important, can you be trickster incarnate?

The mirror reflecting what the world thinks it sees?


Ghettoclaustrophobia: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, Diode Editions, 2021

Poet Bio

Shanta Lee has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MBA from the University of Hartford, and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality from Trinity College. She currently gives lectures on the life of Lucy Terry Prince as a member of the Vermont Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. She is a recipient of the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service in the Arts. Ghettoclaustrophobia: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues (Diode Editions) is her first full-length book of poetry.