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 2024 Poet: Taylor Byas

South Side (I)

This is what teaches me love. Your streets, their wailing 
for their dead. The way a siren becomes a mother 
too. How my parents hold me like some frail thing 
to their chests at night, how quick they are to cover

my ears when the block gets hot. The handshake half-hug
sacred enough to make a man feel whole 
again. The shapeshifting, how what looks like a thug
in darkness softens into a boy in the gold-

glow of a bedside lamp. How we are all 
somebody's grandbaby. Harold's Chicken steeped
in so much hot sauce, the nose runs, and the small
piece of bread too wet to hold, drowning beneath

the fries. Each of our brownstones, side by side—
so there's nowhere to run, nowhere for us to cry.

Source

I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times, Soft Skull Press, 2023

Poet bio

Dr. Taylor Byas, Ph.D. (she/her) is a Black Chicago native currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she is a Features Editor for The Rumpus, a Poetry Acquisitions Editor for Variant Literature, and an Editorial Advisor for Jackleg Press. She is the first-place winner of the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Contest, the 2020 Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets Contest, and the 2021 Adrienne Rich Poetry Prize. She is the author of the chapbook Bloodwarm from Variant Literature, a second chapbook, Shutter, from Madhouse Press, and her debut full-length, I Done Clicked My Heels Three Times, from Soft Skull Press. She is also a co-editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol X: Alabama from Texas Review Press, and of Poemhood: Our Black Revival, a YA anthology on Black folklore from HarperCollins. She is represented by Rena Rossner of the Deborah Harris Agency.

To learn more about Taylor Byas, visit her website.