Edil Hassan

Edil Hassan is a Somali-American poet and writer. She has received support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Stadler Center for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry and the Academy of American Poets, and is forthcoming in Crazyhorse. She is also anthologized in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3 Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019) edited by Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo and A Portrait in Blues (Platypus Press, 2017) edited by jayy dodd. Hassan is the author of Dugsi Girl (Akashic Press, 2021) which was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the New Generation African Poets series by the African Poetry Book Fund. She is a Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin. Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is an MFA candidate and teaches Poetry I. She reads for Dorothy, a Publishing Project, an award winning feminist press dedicated to works of fiction, near fiction, or about fiction.

Judges’ Comments

Edil Hassan’s work is formally as well as thematically compelling. Arresting hiccups, pauses and abruptness shape the reader’s attention to the world. Heeding both presence and absence, for instance, sexual violence and its threat, Hassan turns memory and history into the present tense.


One’s-Self I Sing

In the Quran, poets are depicted as bewildering liars. Language
an unlawful alchemy, a sinners sihr. On the one-on-one date
with God, I shout, Deny me an afterlife! I
ll just make a new one,
and horns sprout from my head. My mother, workshopping
her childhood, recalls stolen shillings and the emptied pockets
of nuns. What is removed are the entrails I could make a career of
if the DOD didn
t beat me to it. Historical amnesia as mood lighting. As every need
-based essay, diversity statement, and writing, I was the only
and never
, I was made the onlyOn TV, the billionaire asks,
were you silent or were you silenced? My father, not knowing
what I know, is honeying the story of my birth.
He wasn
t there. He hates that he wasnt there.
He asks, Do you remember who first held you? I answer,

Yes. I remember.
I remember.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003): A Romance Interrupted

The waves in Italydont eat everything Ubah Cristina Ali Farah

In lieu of a break down, I buy a Tuscan villa
with what
s left of the alimony.
The keys I am given are old and because
I am a novelist, I imagine my past lives
as the generations that once lived in this house
and each one of them is white.
Citizenship goes unsaid; the visa process unsexy,
taxing, and therefore unworthy
of a plot line
unlike the man who will teach me
that after a lengthy divorce I can still orgasm.
He takes me to Rome O Roma! I already miss
the Tuscan fields, where the olive trees are plucked
by Black hands that were plucked from the Mediterranean,
and from the road, don
t look like hands
at all, but like
row after fragrant row
of gnarled branches. Love becomes me in this new city.
I am always radiant. My body, after all, a vessel
of history, but I dress it in white, cinched
at the waist, and no one says a thing.
I antique shop, never suspecting I could find
my skull behind glass, just another artifact, price tagged
and measured, among
such fine china. He leaves me of course.
After all, we
d never survive it; not love or the hours
long drive between us, but the credits rolling.
I don
t shed a single tear (Im lying, enough to flood the piazza).
Besides, there are many men to take his place, ballads of them.
Men, who will touch me, their hands staying hands,
and not blossoming into a rifle, or a colony
of ants
this is the pinnacle of romance, Im sure.
Men, who tell me I have eyes they could drown in.
Men, who have never been left to die at sea. I want to
lie naked in their beds
my desire, simple
and ahistoric
and rename each place they kiss me
like conquered territory: Giorgio, Marcello,
Pietro, whose oiled lips at dinner
could make a blush cross Mary
s porcelain cheeks.

Heaven Is A Basement Party And No One Goes Home + Remix

            in honor of every basement:apartment:rented hall / in which my people have gathered homesick / homegone / let there longing to decorate / their limbs and let home be / found  in every song / let each body be a lyric to memorialize with a mouth

Hair a disco ball of smoke, I am fat-assed
and glorious. Here where the synth is sweeter
than Israfil
s trumpet, and a hand once having counted
loss can now be held in another, high up
and down below I break it down and break
a sweat. Silk soaked through and kohl in my eyes,
color running like a VHS tape rewinding.
Who needs vision when there is you
a vision.
Gold chained. God
s name. Afro a halo of oil
dripping down your neck. Beckoning me
with those hips as if your mother and my mother
t in the corner planning the wedding.
As if one dance would not lead us to morning,
and the whole room made a witness to our demise.