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.

February 2023 Poet: Ra Malika Imhotep

Image made in collaboration with Felicita “Felli” Maynard

this ain’t quite memorial

       for Kenneka, Nia, Tee Tee, Chynal, Kayla, Toyin & all our kin
the heaviness in my chest knows
safely an illusive myth
every reflection in this world
is a ghost

A girl is gone and I see myself
in the shine on her lips.
She was perhaps less jaded.
Or more daring. or thrown to risk 
without choice. But she is gone
all the same and I feel the absence
of her smile in the way
my bed refuses to let go
each mourning.


gossypiin, Red Hen Press, 2022

Poet Bio

Ra Malika Imhotep, ph.d is a Black feminist writer, performance artist, and cultural worker from Atlanta, GA. Currently a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Dance Studies at UC Riverside, they are also co-convenor with miyuki baker of a spiritual-political education project called The Church of Black Feminist Thought and a member of The Black Aesthetic curatorial collective. Their poetry, prose, & thoughtfeelings have been published by Scalawag Magazine, Burnaway, New Life Quarterly, Vinyl, Antenna Gallery, Arrow Journal, The Guggenheim Museum, Poets.org, and elsewhere. Their debut poetry collection, gossypiin, was published by Red Hen Press in 2022.

To learn more about Ra Malika Imhotep, visit their website.