Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight
This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of BIWOC, 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; all the featured poems will be from BIWOC poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.
February 2022 Poet: CYNTHIA PARKER-OHENE
Prevalence of Ritual
after a painting by Romare Bearden
these women these salteaters purl untucked sheets leftover from baptism reset a paraffin lamp recessed in lichen a perched daguerreotype atop a scarred chifforobe clutches an unknown grrrl standing beside trumpeter swans the inscription reads lucinda 1879 kilmarnock its wings appear to cloak her hairline forming a muted halo but it’s only the birthing caul she came seeing an already the camera angles her brand she’s wearing a loose burnoose shawl from potato sacks crushed glass beneath her left foot shines nacre from her shore borrowed from turtle island on the back of the frameless capture a scrawl “somma dem bones is mine”
Daughters of Harriet, The Center for Literary Publishing, Colorado State University, 2022
Cynthia Parker-Ohene is an abolitionist, cultural worker, and therapist. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California and was the Chester Aaron Scholar for Excellence in Creative Writing. She is a winner of the San Francisco Foundation / Nomadic Press Poetry Prize. Her recent work has appeared in The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Kweli, Green Mountains Review, and West Branch, among others, as well as in the anthologies Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. She has received fellowships and support from Tin House, Callaloo, Juniper, the Postgraduate Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Hurston-Wright Foundation, and elsewhere. Her book Daughters of Harriet is forthcoming in March, 2022 and can be ordered now.