Samiya Bashir is a writer, librettist, performer, and multi-media poetry maker. She makes poems from dirt, zeros and ones, variously rendered text, and even light. Called a “dynamic, shape-shifting machine of perpetual motion,” by Diego Báez for Booklist, both her solo and collaborative work has been published, performed, installed, printed, screened, and experienced worldwide.
Bashir is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Field Theories, winner of the 2018 Oregon Book Award. She is working to draft Stranger’s Gate, an auto-fictive, pseudo-historical, nearly narrative, epic prose poem that laces personal history with imagined and historical episodes from 19th and 21st century New York City. Bashir was awarded the 2019-2020 Jerome Brodsky Rome Prize in Literature.
During her MacDowell Fellowship, Bashir made poem-paintings, took documentary photographs, worked on collage poems, and completed the first draft of a libretto, Cook Shack, which will be produced by Opera Theatre St. Louis in March 2023. She also completed audio recordings for a poetry and visual art collaboration with artist Sonya Clarke. During her residency, she accepted the position of executive director of Lambda Literary, the national LGBTQ+ literary arts advocacy organization.
Portrait by Nina Johnson