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Friday Feature: Nikki Patin

Nikki Patin has been writing for over two decades. She has taught workshops on performance poetry, body image, sexual assault prevention, and LGBT issues. Patin has performed, taught, and spoken at elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities such as the University of Chicago, Adler School of Psychology, Northwestern University, Nancy B. Jefferson High School (located within the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center), University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others. Patin was featured on the fourth season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, was voted one of 30 under 30 most influential LGBTQ people in Chicago by Windy City Times, and took the gold medal in the 2006 Gay Games International LGBT poetry slam. Patin was voted “Best Standout Performer” in the Dunedin Fringe Festival while headlining a tour of her one-woman show, “The Phat Grrrl Revolution,” throughout New Zealand and Australia. She has released several chapbooks, a full-length collection of writing and design, two EPs, and a full-length album entitled “Bedroom Empire.” She is the creator of Surviving the Mic, an organization dedicated to creating a safe space for the creation and telling of stories of survivors of all kinds of trauma, with a special focus on Black and female-identified survivors of sexual and domestic violence who also identify as performing writers. Nikki Patin is an MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction at Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. Visit and

Sestina for the Stars

by Nikki Patin

Born perfect

Brutally birthed ethereal

How else shall we describe the genesis of a star?

Eyes searing jewels

Reflecting every angle of the divine

I dare you to bottle my light

Heavy with every kind of light

Rippling, undulating across my bulging skin perfect

My goddess body is not only divine

But flesh dripping down my bones ethereal

As if my belly were stuffed with rare jewels

Embodying refraction, I mirror convex, no shade, all star

Can’t keep your eyes off the bounce of this star

Skittering across the cosmos, a flashlight

illuminating hidden jewels

studding the gorgeous landscape perfect

smile rich and full, buttery and ethereal

like that last, creamy mouthful of ice cream, divine

the last little bite of heaven one can’t get enough of, divine

I dare you to dissect a star

crack open trillions of years of ethereal

no, not too many can’t stand the intensity of this light

no, not many at all can keep company with this kind of perfect

flaws abound in the promise of jewels

I never cared for jewels

Always borrowing their glamour from the divine

While pretending to be perfect

I know a rare gem still pales next to a true star

Which can both shine and glare, depending on the angle of the light

So, gorge yourself on my ethereal

Behold my generosity in gifting you the vision of my ethereal

Do use your tongue to savor my jewels

Bask in my shameless light

I am a channel of the divine

Sauntering across the sky, I’m a star

Intentionally throwing off well-worn orbits while naming myself perfect

My light ethereal

Perfect big belly full of jewels

Divine refusing to be called anything except STAR


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. TORCH has featured work by Toi Derricotte, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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