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Reading by Mahtem Shiferraw: Nomenclatures of Invisibility

Shiferraw calls us to carve out space for the multitudes of selves we carry when we migrate across boundaries of body, language, and land. With momentum, giving name to everything in her path from the longing that comes with migration to her beloved eucalyptus tree, she blurs physical and temporal borders, paying homage to ancestors past, present, and future. Shiferraw writes unapologetically against erasure, against invisibility, instead creating a space that holds grief lovingly, that can tend to the wounds held in the endlessly-traveling body. Brilliant with abundance and texture, Shiferraw’s poems dismantle the empire’s sterile use of language, both historical and present.

“These poems reveal to us something new about naming, a language that’s full of the body’s blood, full of dust and bones and fire, full of seeds and wind. This is a deeply resonant voice, filled with the pain of the immigrant experience and filled with its many rich gifts.”— Dorianne Laux, author of Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems

Mahtem Shiferraw is a writer and visual artist from Ethiopia and Eritrea. She has published two full-length collections of poems with University of Nebraska Press: Fuschia (2016),recipient of the Sillerman Prize for African Poets, and Your Body Is War (2019). Her poetry chapbook Behind Walls & Glass was published by Finishing Line Press. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines, including Callaloo, Prairie Schooner, Poets.org, Luna Luna Magazine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Numero Cinq, and others. Shiferraw serves on the Editorial Board of World Literature Today and is the founder of Anaphora Arts, a nonprofit organization working to advance the works of writers and artists of color.

Mahtem Shiferraw will be in conversation with author and poet Peter Conners, Publisher and Executive Director of BOA Editions.

This is a free online event streamed via Zoom. 


Monday, April 24, 2023


7:30 pm - 8:15 pm

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