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Friday Feature: Isha Camara

Updated: Feb 20

Isha Camara is a Gambian-American poet and visual artist from South Minneapolis, Minnesota. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Masters at Randolph College in Creative Writing. Her work has been featured in Palette Poetry, Southeast Review, Muzzle Magazine, Rhino Poetry, and Lumiere Review. She has performed for the Madison Public Library, Walker Art Center, and American Composers Forum. Isha seeks to sate her curiosities by layering myths with modern desires, questions and obsessing over these old stories by polishing them inside poetic forms and digital art. Visit Isha's website and follow her on Instagram and X (Twitter).

Kanifing, Gambia

Grandfather’s compound, 2009

The first time I saw a chicken killed, I did not care to hold grief

in me like I would were it a baby or a dog. That young, I didn’t know grief.

I was fascinated. The one who orchestrated the murder was a grandmother,

sharp, elbows welded like a blade. She knew not to scatter blood-grief,

but instead made a song out of clucking. I liked that. But death didn’t stop.

On white floors came the plucking. Do it– I’m prompted to join, feel grief

grin over me. I marvel at the public undressing of the almost dead. The chicken

is pink, chatty. It fashes its slit neckbone at me in flirt, performing grief

like a last ditch effort to be released. I cluck i’m sorry. My collarbone rattles too.

I remember the man that wrangled me into his barn. I pick the fence metal griefed

inside of me. I blink. Now I bring the poultry to boiling water. Till the feathers

I couldn’t pluck with my hands fall. I am passed another chicken before my grief

can settle. This one is feisty, breaks from my arms. I follow like a man behind it.

During its useless scramble, Isha thought: what dance would I perform in grief?


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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