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.
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.
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.