The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”


i left my home
so i walk the university’s campus
to my new studio
in a new country

up the hill
summer still
to my skin
i wipe my forehead
look up and see
the construction workers stop
to stare

        and the silence
standing between us
was like their long summer
without foreigners
that made my black skin a mystery again

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.


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