Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is the author of Cannibal, winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award in Literature, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry, and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.
Sinclair’s other honors include a Pushcart Prize and Fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the Civitella Rainieri Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, Yaddo, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Nation, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her memoir, How to Say Babylon, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.
At MacDowell, she worked on her new poetry collection Planet Dread, an interwoven series of poems exploring the oncoming climate apocalypse, which is already slowly claiming the Jamaican coastline and killing its coral reefs. Planet Dread will also chart the unique creation of Rastafarian vernacular — “Rasta-poetics” — by tracing the intersection of counter-culture linguistics in pre-independence Jamaica alongside the persecution of the Rastafari on the island, while attempting to grow a womanhood out of its rebellion.
Portrait by Nadia Albano