Hafizah Geter’s Poems in Un-American Explore What It Means to Belong

She “charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and heartbreak.”
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Hafizah Geter's Un-American. From @kellyforsythe_.

Hafizah Geter's Un-American. From @kellyforsythe_.

The Nigerian American writer Hafizah Geter’s debut poetry collection, Un-American, navigates belongingness, immigration, and loss across racial and familial planes. Marie Claire describes the collection as one that “shimmers with incisive revelations about migration, queerness, the American dream, and making a home in a country that refuses to recognize you.”

Un-American is currently longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award. Here is a description from its publisher, Wesleyan Poetry Series:

Dancing between lyric and narrative, Hafizah Geter’s debut collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes–linguistic, cultural, racial, familial–of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration.

The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you.

Through her mother’s death and her father’s illnesses, Geter weaves the natural world into the discourse of grief, human interactions, and socio-political discord. This collection thrums with authenticity and heart.

The poet Hafizah Geter, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan.
The poet Hafizah Geter, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan.

Hafizah Geter’s poetry and prose have been featured in The New Yorker, Tin House, Boston Review, Longreads, and McSweeney’s Indelible in the Hippocampus, among others. She is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow, a VONA/Voices Nonfiction Fellow, a Bread Loaf 2021 Katherine Bakeless Nonfiction Fellow, a 2018 92Y Women in Power Fellow, and the recipient of an Amy Award from Poets & Writers. She is a literary agent with Janklow & Nesbitt. She serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and is working on a nonfiction project, The Black Period.

Buy Un-American.

Paula Willie-Okafor
Paula Willie-Okafor is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. She is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she is custodian of The Writers' Community (TWC). Her writing has appeared in Kissing Dynamite Magazine and Praxis Magazine.
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