Mahtem Shiferraw
Foreword by Kwame Dawes

African Poetry Book Series

108 pages


March 2016


$15.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2016


$15.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2016


$15.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Ethiopian American Mahtem Shiferraw’s Fuchsia examines conceptions of the displaced, disassembled, and nomadic self. Embedded in her poems are colors, elements, and sensations that evoke painful memories related to deep-seated remnants of trauma, war, and diaspora. Yet rooted in these losses and dangers also lie opportunities for mending and reflecting, evoking a distinct sense of hope. Elegant and traditional, the poems in Fuchsia examine what it means to both recall the past and continue onward with a richer understanding.

Author Bio

Mahtem Shiferraw is a native of Ethiopia and Eritrea and now lives in Los Angeles, California. Her work has appeared in Mandala Journal, Callaloo, Luna Luna Magazine, Cactus Heart Press, Blast Furnace, and Mad Hatters' Review


Fuchsia, culled from robust life and a finely tuned imagination, captures mysteries of the heart and mind alongside everyday rituals. Each poem dares us line by line, and suddenly we’re inside the delicate mechanism of a deep song. The magical, raw, bittersweet duende of Fuchsia speaks boldly. The personal history and emotional architecture of Ethiopia and Eritrea reside in every portentous poem here. But the stories, each shaped and textured by true feeling, are also ours because they beckon to us.”—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of The Emperor of Water Clocks  

“In sometimes startlingly precise, and always musical, language, Shiferraw writes of her childhood in Ethiopia and of her contemporary life in Los Angeles with clarity, insight, and courage. Whether she is writing about butchering a sheep, uncles disappearing, a mother’s mystical definition of self, of war, of poverty, of Kalashnikovs, or of hair, the words on these pages ‘rummage’ until they explode—into beauty.”—Gail Wronsky, author of the poetry collection So Quick Bright Things 

“These poems are always informed with a bittersweet sense of exile, of witness, and of a properly ambivalent stance toward the bewildering consumerist culture in which the writer now finds herself. Yet Shiferraw’s poetry is also suffused with wonder—richly associative, Whitmanic in its linguistic energy and totally complex, shifting without warning from wit to gravity, from self-reflection to lyric abandon. Fuchsia is a richly promising debut.”—David Wojahn, author of World Tree

“Color weaves through the collection, but in ‘Synesthesia,’ colors shoot up like flares to illuminate the trauma of fleeing home. . . . Gifted with synesthesia, the poet knows the world through color. Through her complex use of color, Shiferraw reveals home, made again through the action of memory, lending heartache, depth, and comfort to our lives.”—Mary Catherine Ford, World Literature Today

“[Fuchsia] is deeply sensual: full of color, sense memories, and small details of life.”—Alex Dueben, The Rumpus

Table of Contents

Foreword by Kwame Dawes    
Origins & Intersections    
E is for Eden    
How to Peel Cactus Fruit    
Something Sleeps in the Mud Beds of the Nile    
Twenty Questions for Your Mother    
While Weeping (Broadway & 5th)     
The Monster    
Talks about Race    
Sleeping with Hyenas    
She says they come at night . . .     
Polka Dot Dreams    
Blood Disparities    
Listro (Shoe-Shiner)     
Pilgrimage to the Nile    
Dinner with Uncles    
In the Lion’s Den    
Daisies & Death    
Something Familiar and Freezing    
A Dead Man’s List    
Dialectics of Death    
Being a Woman    
Broken Men    
Song of the Dead    
The Language of Hair    
Small Tragedies    
Dear Abahagoy—    
Ode to Things Torn    
Plot Line    
A Secret Lull    


Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets


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