Discipline: Literature – poetry

Sojourner Ahebee

Discipline: Literature – poetry
Region: Philadelphia, PA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2019

Sojourner Ahebee writes stories about African diaspora identities and the eternal question of home and belonging. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Atlantic, The Academy of American Poets (Poem A Day), Muzzle Magazine, For Harriet, Winter Tangerine Review, Apiary Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2013, she served as a National Student Poet, the nation's highest honor for young poets presenting original work. Sojourner was invited to the White House by former First Lady Michelle Obama to receive her award.

Her debut poetry chapbook, Reporting from the Belly of the Night, was released in August 2017. Of the collection, Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher wrote, “Reporting from the Belly of the Night is a gospel of self-love full of gorgeous pullulating poems. Ahebee wrenches the sting and the sweetness from black womanhood. She evokes historical, cultural, and familial namesakes, sings up the names of daughters and aunties and mamas, makes mountains of them. This is a young woman’s poetry with an elder’s heart, unflinchingly traversing the oceans between slavery and social media. These are poems we long for and need but don’t always see coming.”

A graduate of Stanford University, she is a recipient of a 2019 MacDowell Fellowship, where she worked on her first full-length collection of poems. Inspired by Sojourner Truth’s 19th century photo portraits, these poems aim to develop a theory for the abolitionist’s insurgent project of black, feminine self-fashioning. Sojourner believes not in the boat that floated her here, but what she’ll do with the water.


Phi Beta

Sojourner Ahebee worked in the Phi Beta studio.

Funded by the Phi Beta Fraternity, a national professional fraternity of music and speech founded in 1912, Phi Beta Studio was built between 1929–1931 of granite quarried on the MacDowell grounds. The small studio is a simple in design, but displays a pleasing combination of materials with its granite walls and colorful slate roofing. Inside is…

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