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 2023 Poet: Destiny Hemphill

ghazal for the motherworld

stitched at the edges of our mouths be songs of loss, psalms of care.
rub comfrey salve in the faint seams of our soles, balm of care.

the planet growls with its own grammar of secrets,
rumbles with its own mother wit, rage, song & care.

mabel swaying at the threshold between dirt & aether as her baby
she could not keep on earth visits her: “why, look at your palms, baby care.”

mourning-sickness ruptures bodies into portals, powerful as waters
maternal. may transformation leave us aglow with calm & care.

before we left, we brewed tinctures so our tongues didn’t rust
here, we build our homes with spit, ash, halm & care.

water gleaming like bone—will you tell us again the destiny
of the future’s remains, embalmed with care?


motherworld: a devotional for the alter-life, Action Books, 2023

Poet Bio

Destiny Hemphill (she/they) is a chronically ill ritual worker and poet, living on the unceded territory of the Eno-Occaneechi band of the Saponi Nation (Durham, NC). She is the author of the poetry collection motherworld: a devotional for the alter-life (Action Books, 2023) and co-editor of Poetry as Spellcasting: Poems, Essays, and Prompts for Manifesting Liberation and Reclaiming Power (North Atlantic Books, 2023). Her work has also been featured in Poetry Magazine, Southern Cultures, and the Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” series.

To learn more about Destiny Hemphill, visit her website.