Author Spotlight: Zubaida Bello

Our Spotlight series introduces you to the people behind Perennial Press. In our sixth post, we hear from Zubaida Bello, author of chapbook How to Stop the Burning. Zubaida Bello uses her poetry as an outlet for trauma, a form of activism, and to reimagine the world that she has inheritedShe talks to us about her current reads, and two poets that inspire her. 

What book are you reading right now? Why? / How did you find it?

I am currently reading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. I’ve only read queer theory and I wanted to dive into some queer joy and storytelling, which Bechdel does very well. I found it through one of my teachers. 

Who is someone who never ceases to inspire you?

Roya Marsh is my mentor and slam coach. She’s been with me through thick and thin. I love her and I love her work even more!

Do you prefer reading poetry or hearing it performed? 

I think performance poetry opens up a new space for literature and adds more weight to one’s words. It can definitely be a very freeing experience. 

Gift us with your favorite poem, or a poem you think is perfect. 

the lost baby poem by Lucille Clifton. I chose this poem because it’s so simple and short, but very sorrowful and somber at the same time. Carrying such a complex tone throughout a whole poem is a skill that doesn’t get enough praise. I love this poem!!!

the lost baby poem 

the time i dropped your almost body down

down to meet the waters under the city

and run one with the sewage to the sea

what did i know about waters rushing back

what did i know about drowning

or being drowned

you would have been born into winter

in the year of the disconnected gas

and no car   we would have made the thin

walk over genesee hill into the canada wind

to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands

you would have fallen naked as snow into winter

if you were here i could tell you these

and some other things

if i am ever less than a mountain

for your definite brothers and sisters

let the rivers pour over my head

let the sea take me for a spiller

of seas    let black men call me stranger

always    for your never named sake


Keep up with Zubaida’s poetry on instagram, @zubaida_thepoet.

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