Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo has a new poetry collection out this year that challenges the boundaries of contemporary poetry. Titled Girls That Never Die, the poem uses the epic form to explore the trials and tribulations of Muslim women’s lives, from shame to dangers experienced. It was published on July 12 by One World, an imprint of Random House.
Elhillo’s Girls That Never Die represents the many experiences of shame that accompanies Muslim womanhood and deals with difficult topics such as domestic violence, honor killings, and genital mutilation. But most of all, her poetry collection deals with the dangers of silence in a culture where women’s trauma is often repressed.
In an interview with NPR, Elhillo says her new collection is very different from her previous work as she attempts to write about things she would never have dreamed of talking about. After receiving numerous messages on the Internet from men, shaming her about her body or her work, Elhillo decided to open herself up to a new kind of poetry, far more personal and associated with her own trauma.
She says, “I started writing these poems just from a space of real frustration and anger, kind of mourning all of the years that I lost to the belief that if only I was the correct kind of Muslim woman and polite enough and well-behaved enough, then nobody would hate me and nobody would want to do me harm.”
Having grappled with her own trauma and silence about these topics, Elhillo states that she does not want to be silent any longer and desires to build a feminist community through her new collection. Elhillo says:
This book is for my homegirls. It’s for my sisters, for my siblings, and it’s for myself…The threat of death and the fear of death – those are so often used to govern and to control. So if the girls never die, if the girls won’t die, maybe they’re free from that governance and from that control. And then what could that look like?”
Safia Elhillo was born in Maryland and received an MFA in Poetry from The New School. She has written the poetry collections The January Children and Home Is Not a Country, along with the co-edited anthology Halal If You Hear Me. Her poems have appeared in many renowned publications, including Poetry, Callaloo, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, and in anthologies such as The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism, and New Daughters of Africa. Showing remarkable talent at a young age, she was listed in Forbes Africa’s “30 under 30” Creatives in 2018. Her poetry has received many awards including the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, the Arab American Book Award, and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize.
Just like her breathtaking first two collections, Elhillo’s newest work is a poetic masterpiece that draws on her personal trauma to voice the perspective of Muslim women. Girls That Never Die is a must-read for readers who are fans of poetry that maintains a personal connection to the poet and touches readers’ hearts. We hope that you take this opportunity to add Girls That Never Die to your cart!