Foreword by Kwame Dawes, University of Nebraska Press, 2016


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.

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



Finishing Line Press, 2016

behind-walls-glass-book-cover-final“Mahtem Shiferraw’s poems remind us to return to a state of care. If they are alienated, they are simply being accurate in their report – one is alien only to the degree that one lives in a world without love. These poems shun artifice, shun the surfaces of things unless they align with the deeper yearnings of what even the darkest of nature pulls us back toward – a home deeper than all things that could pose as one, without nurture. And if they are dark, they are dark with a darkness that glows.”

Sarah Maclay, author of Music of the Black Room