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By Samiya A. Bashir
Reflecting upon Toni Cade Bambara’s timeless novel The Salt Eaters on the occasion of her 75th birthday anniversary.
Wake from nightmares midchant.
Squish sandblown eyes still as
death with a hum bird’s beating
heart. Shake mammatus thunder
from Eton blue to cinnamon
to sepia to sand. Will back
sleep then wake and stretch
infinite as fresh eyeteeth
rough as a streak of cubs splashed
red as their rapacious nip. Again.
Samiya Bashir is the author of Gospel, finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2009 Lambda Literary Award, and Where the Apple Falls, a Poetry Foundation bestseller and finalist for the 2005 Lambda Literary Award. Bashir is editor of Black Women’s Erotica 2 and co-editor, with Tony Medina and Quraysh Ali Lansana, of Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art.
Bashir’s poetry, stories, articles and editorial work have been featured in numerous publications including, most recently and forthcoming, in POETRY, Poet Lore, Michigan Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Cura, The Rumpus, Hubbub, Callaloo, and Encyclopedia Vol. 2 F-K among others.
She is the recipient of two Hopwood Awards from the University of Michigan, as well as awards, grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, where she was a recent NEA writer-in-residence, the University of California, where she served as Poet Laureate, the Astraea Foundation, the National Association of Pen Women, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Soul Mountain Writers Colony, The Austin Project, Alma de Mujer, the James Dick Foundation for the Performing Arts, and Cave Canem, among others. Her long poem, “Coronagraphy,” was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize.
A long-time communications professional focused on editorial, arts, and social justice movement building, Bashir is a founding organizer of Fire & Ink, an advocacy organization and writer’s festival for LGBT writers of African descent and a recipient of the 2011 Aquarius Press Legacy Award, given annually in recognition of women writers of color who actively provide creative opportunities for other writers. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches creative writing at Reed College. http://samiyabashir.com/