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Friday Feature: Rohanna Ssanyu

Rohanna Ssanyu is a black, biracial, and diasporan writer born in Fairbanks to a mother from Kampala. She often writes about the complexities of identity, motherhood, and memory. She is a public school teacher experimenting with ways to use poetry in her history classroom. Rohanna is the 1st prize winner of the 2023 Nutmeg Poetry Prize organized by the Connecticut Poetry Society. She is published in Kaleidoscope by Long Wharf Theatre and is forthcoming in Obsidian. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son. Follow her on Instagram.


I crave Luganda

so I stuff myself with words at night

when no one can stop me,

sugary words like

kabalagala that get stuck on my tongue,

wash them down with water

so when Auntie asks me,

do you speak, I can burp out a few,

or cry them onto my cheeks, or cough them

into her hands.

Auntie finds my language

distasteful, so I invite her to sit on my uncovered couch

and serve her lemongrass tea, a decade old,

and I fall to my knees

and speak nonsense to her—

regurgitated words, sticky.

Auntie scrunches her nose

and tells me, just speak in English,

so I curse her in Spanish.

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 Colleen J. McElroy, 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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