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.

December 2022 Poet: AMA CODJOE


Like an organ coiled
              deep inside or a lasso
of lightning and high
                           noon, the rattlesnake
traveled the length
              of my spine, sunning itself
inside me. Then death—some
                           call it god—drew a diamond
on the snake’s back,
              and marked my chest
with feeling. How godly
                           the two of us were, shaking
what was hollow.
              Dirt stained
the front of my blouse.
                           I felt venom
rise in my ears. I rubbed myself
              against a rock,
turning my skin bronze
                           and flawless. This is how
I became a woman,
              sun slithering
across my back,
                           dust glittering my tongue,
the snake’s tail whirring.


From Bluest Nude by Ama Codjoe (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2022). Copyright © 2022 by Ama Codjoe. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

Poet Bio

Ama Codjoe is the author of Bluest Nude and Blood of the Air, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. She has been awarded support from Cave Canem, Robert Rauschenberg, and Saltonstall foundations as well as from Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Hawthornden, Hedgebrook, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Her recent poems have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, the Best American Poetry series, and elsewhere. Among other honors, Codjoe has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council/New York Foundation of the Arts, and the Jerome Foundation.

To learn more about Ama Codjoe, visit her website.