Safia Elhillo - Salt Lake City
Oct 11, 2018, 7:00 pm
The January Children
Salt Lake City
Wasatch Front Region
VenueSalt Lake Community College
1575 State St.
Salt Lake City , UT 84115
Safia Elhillo, author of The January Children, visits Salt Lake Community College (Multipurpose Room, South City campus) on Thursday October 11th at 7:00 PM.
In her dedication Safia Elhillo writes, "The January Children are the generation born in Sudan under British occupation, where children were assigned birth years by height, all given the birth date January 1.” What follows is a deeply personal collection of poems that describe the experience of navigating the postcolonial world as a stranger in one’s own land.
The January Children depicts displacement and longing while also questioning accepted truths about geography, history, nationhood, and home. The poems mythologize family histories until they break open, using them to explore aspects of Sudan’s history of colonial occupation, dictatorship, and diaspora. Several of the poems speak to the late Egyptian singer Abdelhalim Hafez, who addressed many of his songs to the asmarani—an Arabic term of endearment for a brown-skinned or dark-skinned person. Elhillo explores Arabness and Africanness and the tensions generated by a hyphenated identity in those two worlds.
No longer content to accept manmade borders, Elhillo navigates a new and reimagined world. Maintaining a sense of wonder in multiple landscapes and mindscapes of perpetually shifting values, she leads the reader through a postcolonial narrative that is equally terrifying and tender, melancholy and defiant.
Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize, and recipient of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. Safia’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Callaloo, and The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, among others, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She was a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team.
This event was made possible with support from Salt Lake Community College and Utah Humanities.