The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles

by Safia Elhillo

Out of Print


The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles is a heartbreak story told as a nursery rhyme/ a journey towards resilience armed with plenty of snacks/ a girl-meets-boy story with a colorful supporting cast of deceased rappers and complete strangers. Susie Knuckles, Safia Elhillo’s alter-ego, is strange, unkind, tough, and disarmingly childlike. She interweaves her blunt, sometimes brash voice with the author’s pain, and teaches us to save our own lives even when the heart is broken.

what i know you want to say to me
by Safia Elhillo

tell me who kissed       your mouth and made
your lungs a little shipwreck       i know
the wilting of an apple’s flesh when it
is left to air and light       i have seen
the same       in my own body       every
space you’d touched       grew wrinkled
and afraid when your       lips went home
to roost       i’ve forgotten       how to float
it’s quite pathetic       i hear you’ve
discovered       that you are beautiful       that
was not the plan       now we will never get
to make a home       or anything nice       i
mean       think of dancers’ feet       and
horn players’ lungs       beauty’s midwives
are never pretty.

What people are saying

“Habibti Safia writes and it leaves a lump in your throat but also honey under your tongue.”
Warsan Shire

“This book is a master-class on bricolage. It is an artist introduction that doubles as an invitation to awe.”
Josh Bennett

About the Author

Safia Elhillo describes herself as “Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., by way of Cairo, Egypt, by way of everywhere and nowhere for long.”

A finalist in the 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam, Safia has shared the stage with Sonia Sanchez, the late Gil Scott-Heron, and Black Thought and ?uestlove of The Roots.


Photography: Joe Ferrucci