F116. Writing as Refugees: Collective Trauma & Impossible Return

Liberty Salon I, J, & K, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Friday, February 10, 2017
9:00 am to 10:15 am


This dialogue is among indigenous, African, Latino, and Asian writers whose work draws upon their experiences of being refugees, relocated, and stateless. While writers communicate their ancestors’ grief through words, they may face repercussions for breaking the silence. Considering the current refugee crisis, this panel broadens the conversation by discussing when geographical return is impossible, people become undocumented, and war and genocide obliterates a notion of home.



Monica Sok is a Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University, where she edits West Branch and works with the Seminar for Younger Poets. She is the author of Year Zero, and she has received awards from Poetry Society of America, Elizabeth George Foundation, Kundiman, MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, and others.

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, photographer, and performer. She has received fellowships and residencies from Fulbright, Millay, the University of Michigan, and Kundiman. Her work has appeared in many journals. Her chapbook, After, is a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a Canto Mundo fellow, and the first undocumented student to graduate from the University of Michigan’s MFA program. He teaches summers at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and is an associate editor for Noemi Press. He is a founding member of the Undocupoets Campaign.

Safia Elhillo’s first collection, The January Children, is forthcoming. A Cave Canem fellow and poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, with an MFA from the New School, she received the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize

Kenzie Allen is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, and a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. A "Discovery"/Boston Review finalist and managing editor of Anthropoid, her poems have appeared in the Iowa Review, Sonora Review, and Drunken Boat.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center