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.

November 2023 Poet: Deema K. Shehabi

Photo by Omar Khorsheed

At the Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem in the afternoon is the bitterness of two 
hundred winter-bare olive trees fallen 
in the distance. Jerusalem in the soft 
afternoon is a woman sitting at the edge of the Mosque
with her dried-up knees tucked beneath her, listening to shipwrecks
of holy words. If you sit beside her under the stone arch
facing the Old City, beneath the lacquered air that hooks
into every crevice of skin, your blood will unleash
with her dreams, the Dome will undulate gold, and her exhausted
scars will gleam across her overly kissed forehead.
She will ask you to come closer, and when you do,
she will lift the sea of her arms from the furls
of her chest and say: this is the dim sky I have
loved ever since I was a child.


Thirteen Departures from the Moon, Press 53, 2011

Poet bio

Deema K. Shehabi is a Palestinian-American poet, writer, and editor. Deema is the author of Thirteen Departures from the Moon and co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, for which she received a Northern California Book Award. She’s also co-author of Diaspo/Renga with Marilyn Hacker and winner of the Nazim Hikmet poetry competition in 2018. Deema’s work has appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times.

To learn more about Deema K. Shehabi, visit her website.