Author and Poet Safia Elhillo born December 16, 1990, is a Sudanese-American poet known for her written and spoken poetry. Elhillo received a BA from the Gallatin School at New York University and an MFA in poetry from The New School. Elhillo has performed all around the world. She has been praised for her work and has been the recipient of several prestigious poetry awards. Elhillo has shared the stage with notable poets such as Sonia Sanchez and has taught at Split This Rock.
She is one of the ladies featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 2018 list. The award-winning writer is the author of The January Children, a collection of poems. Her collection The January Children won a 2018 Arab American Book Award, receiving the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award. In 2018, she was also listed in Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 in the category Creatives.
Her poems have appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Callaloo, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, among others, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism.
Elhillo has shared her work on platforms such as TEDxNewYork, Under Armour’s Unlike Any campaign, the South African State Theatre, the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and TV1’s Verses & Flow. Elhillo received a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
“The January Children are the generation born in Sudan under British occupation, where children were assigned birth years by height, all given the birth date January 1,” she writes in her dedication.
In addition, Elhillo received a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize and is a recipient of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator.
Safia has shared her work on platforms such as TEDxNewYork, the BBC World Service, the South African State Theatre, the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and TV1’s Verses & Flow. She was a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team.
Her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, Portuguese, and Greek, and has been commissioned by Under Armour and the Bavarian State Ballet.
She was a co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, won the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, and has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and SPACE on Ryder Farm, among others.