Safia Elhillo: Finding 'home' around the world

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Hey fierce listeners! Welcome to the last episode of MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman, the New York series. Over the summer I spent some time in the Big Apple where I had the amazing opportunity to hang out with super fierce women in the arts and activism.

For the final New York episode, I have Safia Elhillo, a spoken-word artist who was a finalist in the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam and has graced the stage with luminary artists such as Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots, Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Immortal Technique, Faith Evans, and Sonia Sanchez. I met up with Safia at Barnes and Nobles where she shared her experiences as a transnational immigrant poet, and discussed language fusion, Egypt and the Arab Spring, the myth of the tortured artist, Wu-Tang Clan and odes to Egyptian Pop stars.


Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., currently living in New York City. Safia is an alum of New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in "Poetry as a Tool for Therapy" and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies, and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the New School. She has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and has shared the stage with Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots, Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, Immortal Technique, Faith Evans, and Sonia Sanchez. She is 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. Safia appears on season 3 of Verses and Flow on TV1, and was a finalist in the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her chapbook of poems, The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles, is published by Well&Often Press. Safia is a Cave Canem fellow and a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly: a journal of black expression.

MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman can also be found at

Intro/outro music:  "Rainbow" by Emilie Simon.  Remix from the original.

Additional music: "A tua choradeira é meio salário em lenços" by Stealing Orchestra & Rafael Dionísio.  Remix from the original.

"The Excuse" by Safia Elhillo. Produced for Verses and Flow, TV One.

"Egypt" by Safia Elhillo.  Film courtesy of Joe Amodei.

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