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About this poet

Samiya Bashir holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Field Theories (Nightboat Books, 2017), winner of the Oregon Book Awards' 2018 Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry. She is also the co-editor of Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art, with Tony Medina and Quraysh Ali Lansana.

Of her poetry, poet Marcella Dyrand writes, "Samiya Bashir challenges the vocabulary of science, finding inflections and echoes within that vocabulary of the long and brutal history of race and racially based economic exploitation in the U.S.A." 

Bashir is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Astraea Foundation, Cave Canem, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National League of American Pen Women, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, among others. In 2019, Bashir was awarded a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She has collaborated with visual and media artists on various projects throughout her career, including projects with video artist Roland Dahwen Wu and dancer Kenyon Gaskin. Bashir will be the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor in June 2019, and is an associate professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she lives. 

 


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Field Theories (Nightboat Books, 2017)
Gospel (RedBone Press, 2009)
Where the Apple Falls (RedBone Press, 2005)

John Henry crosses the threshold—

Everyone up here called me crazy but
I couldn’t do nothing but what seemed right.
Crazy to fight—maybe—maybe crazy
enough to win. Every day I crouch down

into that bend I know I might not creep
out again. Tunnels eat men like penance—
like payment for letting us through       I knew
my life would be short would be fast but each

shaft of light that snuck through the cracks I smacked
in them walls kept me going and led me

right back—swinging—up this yap and folks thought
I was crazy try’n’a dream us up a
future even if I couldn’t see it
through all that dust       those sudden
                                                                           shouts and screams.

From Field Theory. Copyright © 2017 by Samiya Bashir. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Nightboat Books, www.nightboat.org.

From Field Theory. Copyright © 2017 by Samiya Bashir. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Nightboat Books, www.nightboat.org.

Samiya Bashir

Samiya Bashir

Samiya Bashir is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Field Theories (Nightboat Books, 2017). She will be the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor in June 2019, and is an associate professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she lives.

by this poet

poem

after Z. S.

Still, somehow we are
carousel. We spin bodies
to the wall and back.

We are woman and
man and man. We
are surgeon and

operation. We are
everybody we love.
We are inside them.

We are inside and we
are laughing. We are
man and we

2
poem
Like love: first you pick up; then you lay down; then discard; then discard; then discard. That’s love. Right? Did somebody say Dominoes? The problem of a street game is you. You’re already doing it wrong. Doing it wrong before you wake up. Before you walk up the street. Cross the crowded corner. Case in point:
2