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Safia Elhillo.

American sports and footwear company Under Armour is using a poem by Sudanese Safia Elhillo, titled “Kintsugi,” for its “Unlike Any” PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics campaign in South Korea. The campaign, “which celebrates female athletes who shatter expectations,” features a rousing 45-second video of American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn who missed the 2014 Olympics because of a serious knee injury and afterwards broke an arm last year in training. The film:

“looks at ways in which debilitating injuries and setbacks have served to motivate Vonn. Every time Lindsey Vonn reached her breaking point, she became unbreakable. Her comeback story is #UnlikeAny.”

Here is the report from Baltimore Sun:

The video is set to a poem by Safia Elhillo, author of last year’s The January Children, who wrote the piece specifically for Vonn. It’s called, “Kintsugi,” the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.

“This is what I became each wound filled with sunlight to bond my old self to my new,” the poem goes, recited in its debut in the film by the poet.

Under Armour has been working with Elhillo over the past few months on the poem and film, which is a new, remix of Vonn’s original Unlike Any video released last fall.

Under Armour’s “Unlike Any” campaign features five films with “spoken word artists who created poems to fit stories of each of five athletes”: sprinter Natasha Hastings; Alison Desir, founder of Harlem Run Crew; Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theater principal ballerina; professional stuntwoman Jessie Graff; and Chinese taekwondo champion and actress Zoe Zhang.

Safia Elhillo—recipient of the 2015 Brunel Prize, the 2016 Sillerman Prize, and a nomination for the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Poetry—most recently signed up, alongside Gbenga Adesina, to guest-edit 20.35: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry. Congratulations to her.

Watch the video:

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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