Longlisted for the 2023 PEN America Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection.
MAAFA is an epic poem about reparations and the female body. Maafa undoes the erasure of trauma and of black femininity. Maafa has killed her father and been granted eternal life. Maafa is Swahili for catastrophe or holocaust, and echoes the Hebrew word Shoah. Without a word for a traumatic event, its erasure is always in progress. Maafa killed her father in the barracoons because the sight of him in captivity beside her was too much to bear. Now she is on her hero’s journey which is filled with efforts to shake the sense of shame and longing and forgetting that haunts her in her pursuit of freedom. The crime chases her into all manners of light and darkness. Through an accumulation of images she exorcises her own haunts, and is healed into complete being.
Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, and the author of five collections of poetry. She curates an archive of griot poetics and a related performance series at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. She has received the Motherwell Prize, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, a NYFA fellowship, a Schomburg Fellowship, a California Book Award, and a research fellowship from Harvard University's Woodberry Poetry Room. She lives in Los Angeles.