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Maples, Kwoya Fagin

Maples, Kwoya Fagin


Kwoya Fagin Maples is a writer from Charleston, S.C. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama, is a graduate Cave Canem Fellow and a Homeschool Lambda Literary Fellow. In addition to a chapbook publication by Finishing Line Press entitled Something of Yours (2010), her work is published in several journals and anthologies including Blackbird Literary Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, The African-American Review, PLUCK, Cave Canem Anthology XIII, The Birmingham Poetry Review, and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Her current manuscript, MEND, finalist for the AWP Prize, tells the story of women who were the experimental subjects of Dr. James Marion Sims of Montgomery, Alabama. This work received a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation. MEND is forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky in fall 2018.

Maples teaches Creative Writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and directs a three-dimensional poetry exhibit which features poetry and visual art including original paintings, photography, installations and film.

Twitter: @kwoya_maples

Instagram: @kwoyafagin


This body has housed three women,
accommodated three sets of fists,
six eyes and three belly buttons.
It allowed iron bones and spines
to raise their way into existence.

This morning my right breast stretched
from my robe, touched my infant’s mouth,
bobbed like branches over a water
until her sharp fish mouth closed onto it—
her lips as imperceptible as a cat’s,
her lips as thin

I am grateful to this constellation
for healing itself again,
for sealing off blood, its vessels,
for scarring to create a second line of stars
to run my fingertips over, lighting them with heat
as they travel across


“All of my children have died or wandered away.”- Alabama Slave Narratives

Here are the milk and songs
from my breast.
Here is his cover
sewed from calico scrap and dyed
with peachtree.
Take it for nights when he is cold.
Here is the sheet I washed
in secret, to catch him
when he came. It was to give him
a clean start.
Take the old dresser drawer
I used for a cradle.

You will need pins
from the washwoman and this wrap from my hips—
You can carry him
against your back.
Take the knife
from under my bed
that they used to cut the pain.

I did not make a basket of medicine
I did not want to mark him sick,
But here is pine-top tea, and elderbrush
Here are mullen leaves for when he cuts teeth.
Here is his corn husk doll,
same as all the rest. And take
the place I prepared for him
near the fire,
the quilt folded in half then again
so he would rest
against something
soft. Take the room full
of times my hand crossed over my belly,
a prayer on my lips.

and in the room there was a picture on the wall
with hundreds of people drawn in charcoal
women and men drawn in charcoal
it was smudged
I wondered who was touching it
and while I was imagining
all kinds of things
your mouth was roaming on my shoulder

imagine roaming up a tree—
I haven’t climbed trees since I was eleven
but yesterday
I went up in an old cedar
and there was a green man in the branches
he said my feet were well formed
and no one who passed could see us because
we were invisible

and this made me laugh
I already felt invisible

Something of Yours (Finishing Line Press, 2010)

MEND (University Press of Kentucky, 2018) forthcoming

Recipient, Thomas Wolfe Award

Recipient, Michael Goodson Award