“The little blonde ingot of feeling deeply”: an interview with Teen Sequins Guest Editor Aidan Forster

( On a lovely spring afternoon, on the occasion of Aidan becoming the first ever Teen Sequins guest editor, an interview was held via the magic of Google Docs, and the spill of conversation that such a medium allows. This is the edited version of a lengthy and lovely chat.) 

Sophie Klahr, Teen Sequins Co-Creator & Editor: Aidan! Thank you so much for agreeing to be the Guest Editor of Teen Sequins 2022! I’m terribly grateful to have a once-featured Teen Sequin taking the reins here. 

Aidan Forster, Teen Sequins 2022 Guest Editor : Thank you so much for inviting me! It’s truly an honor to return to Teen Sequins as a Guest Editor after being recognized as a high school writer to witness a new generation of shine!

SK: So, you are 21 (22?) now, and your poem “Cistern” was featured in Teen Sequins in 2016, when you were 15! I’m curious to know what your writing life was like then.

AF: Yes, 21 now! At 15, I studied creative writing at the Fine Arts Center, a half-day arts magnet school in Greenville, South Carolina, for two hours everyday. So much of what I still understand as the majesty and mysticism of writing emerged from my experiences at the Fine Arts Center, reading and writing under the guidance of poet and novelist Sarah Blackman, and it’s also where I developed my first understanding of a larger, “professional” literary world. So while I had many essential explorations into the powers of poetry as a magical tool with which to sculpt landscapes that could hold me in love and tenderness, I also turned outward, toward the world of contests, magazines, and submission managers… so it’s interesting now, thinking about how the extreme awe and reverence with which I approached poetry was always already tempered by an engagement with a market or a capitalizing audience. 

SK: Ah ! That’s truly wild to me. When I was in high school, perhaps there were internet journals (somewhere out there in the Land of Dial-Up), but I would have been hard-pressed to find some sort of coherent and consistent access to a poetry world that welcomed me as a teen–with the exception of the slam scene–had I been brave enough to crawl out from under my bed where I was basically writing poetry by flashlight. Only at the very, very end of high school was I ready to share my work with others, and even then, just barely. That’s part of why I’m so impressed every year with the bravery of those who submit to Teen Sequins!

There are so many different types of organizations and programs now for young writers, but sometimes it’s so scary to take that first step towards showing your writing to other people. What might you say to teenagers who have never done so before? 

AF: I’m so grateful for the support I received at a very young age as a person fiddling with the notion of building a writerly life around the little blonde ingot of feeling deeply and having no place to express those feelings but on the page. I teach high schoolers, students who consider themselves writers and have extensive literary pedigrees, and students who have never written a poem but find themselves fascinated by language and wordplay, and I tell all of them that there is no one way to be a writer, that you do not have to publish or perform or post your work to authenticate the constellation of feelings and circumstances that created your poems. 

There’s a danger (one to which I’ve succumbed!) in the competitive arboretum of the teen writing world to adjust your work preemptively to curry favor from this or that guest judge of this or that contest, and I want to encourage teenage writers interested in placing their work in these spaces to view publication and performance as fundamentally discrete processes from the fantastical and sometimes frightening biome of the draft. If you commit wholeheartedly to uncertainty, wonder, beauty, and strangeness in your work, that work will speak and sing for itself when and where it needs to.

SK: Amen, and beautifully put. I often give students this quote, from Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching: “Do your work, then step back–the only path to peacefulness.” I used to have it written on a post-it note above my desk, along with another quote from Isak Dineson: “Write a little everyday, without hope and without despair.” I think what kills creativity so often is overthinking and expectation, and what you said about committing wholeheartedly to uncertainty in particular rings true for me. 

One of the main points I try to emphasize about Teen Sequins is that it’s not a competition! It’s a celebration— I really try to make that clear. In a landscape that so fraught with competitiveness, as you’ve been speaking of, I always hope for Teen Sequins to simply be a space where the resulting feeling of those who submit is not “Wow, I’ve won!” or “Crap, I’ve been rejected (and I’m terrible)” but somehow a neutral space of simply being proud to have offered work to the world. It seems hard for people to get into that mindset in 2022, but it truly is how I view Teen Sequins – not as a contest, but as a celebration — Robby Auld and I started the feature in 2015 in part as a way of celebrating the mentee-mentor relationship that had been kind of gifted to us out of the blue by the universe (incited by Robby’s then-14-year-old passion for writing). There is, however, the fact of being featured in Teen Sequins or not featured, and I do understand how being the latter could result in the feeling of loss. I hope it doesn’t though for too many. In your own writing life, how do you deal with “rejection” ? Has that changed for you over the years? 

AF: First – I love both of those quotes! Especially the one about writing each day, without hope and without despair. Poetry (and queerness, and queer poetry, for me) is about failure–the failure to arrive at the expected, having oxbowed into an altogether different but nonetheless lush place, but having made something beautiful from the failure. And rejection is an essential part of that process! I can’t even tell you how many little gray “Declined” boxes are clogging my Submittable… but, as silly as it sounds, sitting at the bottom of every form rejection, “no” is often “not right now.” In many situations, you’ll have another opportunity to submit, and that in and of itself offers reassurance. I’ve become very nonchalant about (most–not all!) rejections because I try so hard to maintain a solid divide between generation and publication.

In generative spaces, I allow myself to approach befuddlement and vulnerability and recklessness as necessary conditions for the poem’s emergence, to be open and honest with myself about what the poem wants and not what I think an editor will want of the poem. So on the other side of this operation, when I submit my work, I remind myself that I have shown up for my poems, and that an editor’s response to them doesn’t dictate their merit. 

After spending so many years in literary environments, it’s become easier to receive criticism and rejection. But there’s always a sting! And I don’t think that will ever change… but I also think that’s ok, to be stung into a different state, one that might change my focus for the better. 

SK: YES. Developing that habit, that muscle, of separating oneself and the actual poem from what any editor says about it is so essential. And one has to start somewhere. Acceptance to a journal often feels quite random; I’ve been submitting to Crazyhorse literally for ten years, and have never gotten a poem accepted. But the first time I sent something to The New Yorker, they took it. There’s very little rhyme or reason to acceptances, as far as I can tell. Again – it’s all a matter of doing your work, then stepping back, and being willing to continue loving the poem, and the process, no matter what anyone else says. If you had maybe a single sentence to whisper ( not creepily) in a writer’s ear who was planning to send their work to Teen Sequins, what would you say? 

AF: Yes, so random! Every writer has those strange tumbleweedish crossroads of submission luck. I submitted to DIAGRAM, the first magazine to which I ever sent work, for six years, receiving form rejections and the occasional encouraging note, before they finally accepted a poem about Britney Spears falling in love with a robot. And when I submitted my chapbook, Exit Pastoral, to YesYes Books, they selected it as a finalist, and I’d never submitted it anywhere else; I’d never even realized I could feasibly construct a chapbook from the Southern-fried musings and musettes over which I’d been laboring. 

To go back to what you said about celebration: that’s part of why I love Teen Sequins so much! And what I want to emphasize to writers interested in submitting to Teen Sequins: that writing is about pleasure! I read an interview with the actress Kim Cattrall in which she claimed this motto: “I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m not enjoying myself for more than an hour.” How silly, how seemingly simple, but I do believe there’s a poetics in this, something about leading yourself to the palatial glimmer of excitability in your own work, of not settling for less than enjoyment, less than revelation, less than a little more beauty next time–and this isn’t to say that your poems need to be happy, or to be about happiness. The pleasure of poetry is rigorous and, as poet Paul Tran emphasizes in this interview , often about humiliation, startling the self into a cowed state, but moving into and beyond that feeling towards discovery, and this movement towards discovery describes an arc of pleasure, excitement. So, to TLDR what’s become a very long whisper, I’d say: follow your pleasure

SK: I think that the universe wants us to be surprised. Another quote I used to have on a post-it: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” I couldn’t be more pleased to pass the Teen Sequins editorial torch to someone so open-hearted and passionate and curious. I’m so excited to see what poems you feature this year. Any final thoughts before we say farewell this afternoon? 

AF: Thank you so much! I’m so excited to read this year’s submissions! My last piece of advice might be: read more! But also, time spent with the world is time invested in poem-making.

SK: Yes, yes!; Again: amen.

~~~~~~

Submissions for the Teen Sequins 2022 feature open on Friday, April 1st. To read past features and and learn about submission guidelines, visit us here!

GS @ 2022 AWP / Shiny Family Schedule!

Check us out at T548 in the bookfair–our EIC Kimberly Ann Southwick, Poetry Editor Billie R. Tadros, and CNF Editor LaTanya McQueen will be joined by readers E Kerr and Saul Lemerond Thurs-Sat. 9am-5pm! Come by, grab a free sticker and/or some candy–maybe a back issue?! Maybe our current issue!? We’d love to see you, even if it’s just to say hi.

Here’s everything else you should do besides the above while you’re in PHL:

WEDNESDAY 3/23/2022

7-9pm / Jose Hernandez Diaz (GS 7.1) / Readings On the Pike/MoCo Underground Do AWP!

THURSDAY 3/24/2022

ON-SITE

9-10am / VIRTUAL / Jericho Brown (GS’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / “The Poetics of Film: Five Poets on the Influence & Impact of Cinema

10:35-11:50am / Sofia Samatar (GS 8.2) / “Myth & Monsters in Memoir: Using Folklore to Structure Personal Writing

10:35-11:50am / Saul Lemerond (GS 8.1 & current Fiction Reader) & Kimberly Ann Southwick (GS Founder & EIC) / “The Neanderthal & the Fax Machine: Teaching the Surreal & Absurd

10:35-11:50am / Bianca Stone (GS 6.2 & 2015 Winter Poetry Comics Judge) / “Honoring American Poet Ruth Stone in a New Film about Her Life & Poetry

10:35-11:50 / VIRTUAL / Tracy Fuad (GS 7.2) / “AWP Award Series Reading

12:10-1:25pm / MIchael Czyzniejewski  (GS issue 12) / “Flash Fiction: Forward to the Future!

1:45-3pm / Kayleb Rae Candrilli (GS 8.2, issue 11, & 10th Annual Summer Poetry Contest Judge) / “Shaping a Poetry Manuscript That Has a Chance in Today’s Literary Landscape

1:45-3pm / Chloe Martinez (GS issue 11) / “Change of Plans: The Pleasure & Pain of Walking Away from Academia

3:20-4:20pm / VIRTUAL / celeste doaks (GS 7th Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / “United We Stand: How Diverse Collections Create Space

3:20-4:20pm / VIRTUAL / Rachel Mennies (GS 5.1) / “Beyond Representation: Intersections of Poetry & Mental Illness

5-6:15pm / Dawn Lundy Martin (GS 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / “A Reading & Conversation with Elizabeth Acevedo, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Deesha Philyaw, Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts

OFF-SITE

3-5pm / Spencer Silverthorne (GS issue 13) / UL Lafayette CW Program Off-Site Reading

5:30pm / Mag Gabbert (GS issue 12) / The Arkansas International and The Massachusetts Review Present: an Evening of Poetry and Prose

5pm / Sara Fetherolf (GS issue 13) / “New American Press Celebrates New Writing

6pm / Tracy Fuad (GS 7.2) / Minza’s Off-site Reading: The Experimental Issue

6pm / Athena Dixon (Past GS Reader) / Women’s Voices, Women’s Stories – An Evening of Memoir Readings

6pm / VIRTUAL / Meredith Clark (10.2) / Platypus Press Presents…

7pm / Kimberly Ann Southwick (GS Founder & EIC), & Nicole Steinberg (GS 6.2) / Bedfellows Thursday Thirst & Issue 11 Launch

7pm / VIRTUAL & IN-PERSON / Jennifer Fliss (GS 9.1) & Ellen Rhudy (GS issue 11) / Alternating Current & Okay Donkey Collaborative Reading

7pm / Sommer Browning (GS 6.2 Guest Poetry Editor) / A Reading by Birds LLC, Fence, Fonograf Editions, & the CSU Poetry Center

8pm / Tracy Fuad (GS 7.2) / AWP Conference Off-site Reading by Austin Segrest, Anne Barngrover, Tracy Fuad, and Keith Kopka

8:30-10pm / Jim Daniels (GS 2.2) / Glassworks Magazine 10th Anniversary Reading

FRIDAY 3/25/2022

9-10:15am / Marcela Sulak (GS issue 12) / “Reverberation: The Book Review as Literary (Labor) Labor

9-10:15am / Chloe Martinez (GS issue 11) / “Admit It, You’re Writing a Poem: Ars Poetica & the Awkward Confession

10:35-11:50am / Len Lawson (GS 10.1) / “The Future of Black: The Advent of 21st-Century Second-Wave Afrofuturism Poetry

10:35-10:50 / Jane Wong (GS 3.2) / “Teaching & Writing Asian America in the CW Classroom

10:35-10:50 / Annie Liontas (5th Annual Flash Fiction Contest Judge) / “Both/And: Boosting Women, Genderquee,r & LGBT Writers

10:35-11:50am / Kayleb Rae Candrilli (GS 8.2, issue 11, and 10th Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / “Saturnalia Books Twentieth Anniversary Reading

12:10-1:10pm / VIRTUAL / LaTanya McQueen (GS CNF Editor) / “Research & Reckoning: How Nonfiction Research Allows Us to Reckon with the Past

12:10-1:25pm / Arisa White (9th Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / “Total Strangers: Undergrads, Authors, & Editors on Amplifying International Voices

1:45-3pm / Mag Gabbert (GS issue 12)/ “Empowering New Writers: Strategies for Teaching the Hesitant Poetry Student

3:20-4:20pm / VIRTUAL / Tyler Barton (GS 9.1) / “Houses Full of Houses: The Structure & Craft of Building Story Collections

3:20-4:20pm / VIRTUAL / Tafisha A. Edwards (GS 7.1 & GS Poetry Editor) / “Call Me by My Name: Poetry of Black Womanhood & the Erotic

3:20-4:35pm / Saul Lemerond (GS 8.1 & current fiction reader) & Billie R. Tadros (GS 7.1 & GS Poetry Editor) / “Multimodal Identities: How Podcasting Can Unbind Creative Voices

3:20-4:35pm / Olivia Kate Cerrone (GS 3.1) / “Building Sustainable Writing Communities in a Postpandemic World

3:20-4:35pm / Keetje Kuipers (GS 5.1) / “Transparency & Transformation: The Literary Institution at the Tipping Point

OFF-SITE

5pm / Dorothy Chan (10.1) / Friday Poetry @ Brickbat Books

6:30-8pm / MICHAEL CHANG (GS issue 13), Mónica Gomery, Elizabeth Deanna Morris Lakes (GS issue 12) & Bianca Stone (GS 6.2 & Poetry Comics Contest Judge) / The Gigantic Sequins, Iterant, Ruth Stone House, & Rose Metal Press Off-site Reading at Young American Cider

7pm / Alyse Knorr (7.2) / Switchback Books, Jellyfish Review, & Furniture Press Books Reading

SATURDAY 3/26/2022

ON-SITE

9-10:15am / Michael Czyzniejewski (12.1) / “Bowling Green State University MFA’s Fiftieth Anniversary Reading

12:10-1:25pm / Paul Lisicky (GS 2018 Flash CNF Contest Judge) / “Chosen Families: A Reading & Conversation Presented by Red Hen Press

1:45-3pm / Atom Atkinson (GS 2.2) / “Sum = {Poetry + New Media + Politics + Performance}

1:45-3pm / MarÍa Isabel Alvarez (GS 8.1) / “Embracing Bilingual Writing & Bicultural Narratives

3:20-4:35pm / Jane Wong (3.2) / “In Order to Be Totally Free: Teaching via the Writing Constraint

OFF-SITE

3-5pm / celeste doaks (GS 7th Annual Poetry Contest Judge) / ?th Annual Rock & Roll Reading

6pm / Jameka Williams (7.2) / Bloom: A Spring AWP ’22 Offsite Poetry Reading

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

Brewery ARS (in South Philly & Fishtown)

Philly. Style. Bagels. (in Fishtown & Old City)

Philly AIDS Thrift & Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room (aka “queerbooks.com)

Head & the Hand Books (Fishtown)

Brickbat Books (South Philly)

Harriett’s Bookshop (Fishtown)

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (Fishtown)

Please do not leave this city without trying the scrumptious dessert WATER ICE, eating a SOFT PRETZEL (they really are better here), and getting yelled at by someone–preferably someone riding a bicycle who is righteous in their yelling at you OR someone in Philly sports gear who is not righteous in their yelling at you.

Welcome to TEEN SEQUINS 2021 !

An insect’s feast, an east wind, the motorcycle’s younger brother and a self-portrait in erasure and consent and time after death — this is just some of what you’ll find in the poems of our featured Teen Sequins writers of 2021. Follow along this week on our website as we reveal each day our featured poets for 2021: Emma Tian (age 14), Sophia Liu (age 15), Alexander S (Age 16), Stella Lei (age 17), and Suraj Singareddy (age 18). The feature starts TOMORROW, November 8th, and we couldn’t be more excited to share these poems with you.

Since 2015, we have set aside a week each year to celebrate the writing of teenagers, and the mission to choose just one poem to feature for each age category is nearly impossible — there is so much poetry deserving of praise. We celebrate here in our kick-off all those who have submitted with truly deserved honorable mention!

Honorable Mentions, Age 14: Shaliz Bazldjoo, Julia Dun Rappaport, Chloe Lee, Iago Macknik-Conde, Matthew Martins, Ryan Park, Avantika Singh, Emma Tenzler, Ziyi Yan

Honorable Mentions, Age 15: Samaira Bhalla, Marlo Cowan, Kiera Darling, Katherine Dyal, Sabrina Guo, Madhalasa Iyer, Daniel Kim, Anna Laine, Sophia Liu, Asanda Mdikeli, Abby Nelson, Jamie Nguyen, Michelle Park, Tara Prakash, Kashvi Ramani, Franny Shaloum, Katie Tian, Rachel Xu, Suchita Vanguri, Aileen Zhao, Selina Zheng

Honorable Mentions, Age 16: Alli Benthien, Faith Bet, Anna Feng, Arriyana Franklin, Isabella Fron, Amelia Harrington, Jay Jarboe, Andrew Kang, Gayatri Kapoor, Elane Kim, Shannon Kim, Anoushka Kumar, Sangeeta Krishen, Aebby Lee, Ella Lüking, Avery Mcguire, Isabella Merino, Francesca Mills, Aamina Mughal, Eric Pak, Amrutha Reddy, Vivian Rong, Lena Singh, Jazmine Thomas, Tara Tulshyan, Noel Ullom, Amy Wang, Andrew Wang, Ally Wong, Katherine Wei, Amanda Zhou, Kevin Zhu

Honorable Mentions, Age 17: Miriam Alex, Julia Bertino, Daniel Boyko, E.J. Carnegie, Ana Carpenter, Helen Chen, Viviane Fontoura, Kevin Gu, Yong-Yu Huang, Andy Hunjan, Lauren Hyunseo Cho, Jasmine Kapadia, Erin Kim, Tyler Kruger, Mia Hoppel, William Kim, Zoe Lafontant, Amelhyne O’Regan-Farineau, Yahir Ortiz, Irene Park, Halle Preneta, Evy Shen, Jordan Teitelbaum, Courtney Trusty, Sakshi Umrotkar, Hanishree Vichare, Yixuan Wu,

Honorable Mentions, Age 18: Antonius Dalsgaard, Fallon Davidson, Cole Granahan,  Naya Dukkipati, Julie Larick, Divya Mehrish, Sylvia Roussis, Grace Song

The GS 2020 Pushcart Prize Nominees

We are honored to be able to nominate the following 6 pieces for a Pushcart Prize this year, all of which can be found in our sole 2020 issue, issue 11!

“Higher! Higher!” by Ellen Rhudy

“Brainchild” by Cheryl Clark Vermeulen

“Spacesuit, or Learning How to Float Through Public Space” by Alan Chazaro

“True Owl” by Brendan Curtinrich

“How a Person Becomes a Body” by Paula Marafino Bernett

“After Ariana Grande” by Amy Zimmerman

Image that looks sort of 80s in pink, black, and white, reiterating the information already on this page: the winners' names and works' names.

Teen Sequins 2020, Day 5: Heather Laurel Jensen, age 18

 Elegy Apologizing in Hindsight
  

 I hear:  July will bring the second coming,
               monsoon season, and a stock market crash. 
               Each light on the water tower will blink
               and then strobe. A cougar will sleep 
               under my trampoline for weeks. Dogs 
               will break into every antique shop and
              devour fine china. From there the moon will roll 
              across a cliff and crush the nearest mobile home.
  
 Today they are dredging my best friend’s body from the lake.
 She is wrapped in pink tarp and identifiable
 by her ponytail. The edges of each day are ochre and 
 pulling up at the corners like linoleum. Occasionally 
 when I take a shower, there is vomit already 
 in the bathtub. I should not be here,
  
 not like this. Three weeks ago we were kneeling
 at the gulf of a psych ward, with my hands 
 pressing a Ziploc to her nose and mouth in lieu
 of a paper bag. In hindsight,
             
             I am not even 
             an effective attempt at
             a solution. A threat is
             still a threat when
             you pretend it’s benign.
             Sorrow is still sorrow
             with my headphones in. Her grief
             was still grief when I 
             avoided it. In the future,
             I hope to be unafraid
  
 of asking questions. Her parents will join
 a nunnery. The lake will drain
 through a metal slit in the earth. Her old
 things will appear on every subway 
 in the world. In hindsight, I will look for
 the cliff crumbs in the cuffs of her jeans. In
 hindsight, I will call the hospital and tell them 
 her name. 



Heather Laurel Jensen is a freshman at the University of Arizona. She served as National Student Poet of the Southwest in 2018 and is currently co-president of Creative Youth of Arizona, an organization that administers the Phoenix Youth Poet Laureate program and develops creative opportunities for young Arizonans. Her poetry, short stories, and photography have been published by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, diode poetry journal, and the Live Poets Society of New Jersey, among others.

Teen Sequins 2020, Day 4: Jaewon Chang, Age 17

 Silent Adieu
  
 Each day is a land silently waiting
 to be unmasked. This evening,
  
 I’ll find the revolver wrenched
 in my father's closet. The barrel
  
 seems to extend longer than
 the time it allows for farewells.
  
 Sometimes, I wonder if holes are made
 easier during the night. That a trigger
  
 soiled with daylight might be easier
 to unroll. I’m gripping the gun, but
  
 dawn is only as bright as we wish
 to call it. Perhaps, the frail body
  
 lying against the front porch isn’t
 as scary at night. Soon, I’ll bend down
  
 and recognize his face, like a bullet
 waiting before it begins to whisper. 

Jaewon Chang is a high school junior living in the Philippines. His works have been recognized by the Scholastics Art and Writing awards on a national level and he is a Foyle Young Poet. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Austin International Poetry Festival Youth Anthology, National Poetry Writing Month Anthology (2020), Ilanot Review, Bitter Oleander Press, and elsewhere. During his free time, Jaewon enjoys traveling the city on foot.

Teen Sequins 2020, Day 1: Sarah Fathima Mohammed, Age 14

Wounded Body 
  
When I am ten, my grandmother squeezes my flabby
 stomach with small, raisined hands. This is the closest 
  
 we have been. I am taught a woman should 
 keep her distance before marriage, save touch 
  
 like thirst and wait for a man’s mouth to drink 
 from. In the communal harvest shed behind 
  
 the village huts, my grandmother 
 wraps black fabric over my white kurti. 
  
 It billows at my waist like a breath. 
 Spreads over my ­­­chest as hands gasping 
  
 open, white petals. Burka stretching over
 my lips as another mouth. This is a body
  
 close enough to kiss. I have never felt anything 
 more human. I imagine that my grandmother birthed 
  
 this burka from her own stomach—fabric dousing her womb
 in darkness, coming out as flesh. Shaped like a fist. 
  
 In Tamil, wound and body share the same word. 
 Meaning that the body is only another way 
  
 to hurt. Meaning that I am a scab that is not capable
 of healing. Swollen thighs. Mouth purple 
  
 at the edges. I confess: I want this burka 
 to swallow me like a river. Drench me
  
 in salve until I’m sputtering. Bandage 
 this wound. If this burka is another body, 
  
 it is a better one. My grandmother whispers 
 that my body is too sacred to remove the burka. 
  
 I mistake the word sacred for scared. My body is not 
 the altar, only the meat that has been placed on it, sacrificed
  
 in all the wrong ways. I will drape this fabric
 over me like a corpse, hide inside it as a remedy. 
 ­­ 

Sarah Fathima Mohammed is a brown, Muslim-American writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work appears or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST,  Diode, Apprentice Writer, and elsewhere. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Poetry Society of the UK, and the National Poetry Quarterly’s Editors’ Choice Prize, among others. When she is not writing, she serves as managing editor for The Aurora Review and genre editor for Polyphony Lit.