Bashir’s performance mixes science and poetry

The effect was like a haunting fever dream I wanted to stay in. Striking deliberations from that night still penetrate my consciousness now. Phrases like “I bear the long silence of my own extinction,” “Light speed = need = constancy,” “We are our own shadow. We are want of touch. We are biting. We are hungry. We are a stopped carousel” and “Did anyone ever ask?”
Through repetition and renewing contexts, these phrases get absorbed into the listener’s subconscious, rumbling there.
-Sara Fullerton

FIELD THEORIES short-listed for the Oregon Book Awards!

I'm honored to have FIELD THEORIES short-listed for the Oregon Book Awards' Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry. Come to the ceremony to celebrate a year's worth of groundbreaking books!


Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships supports, promotes, and celebrates Oregon’s writers and publishers.

The Oregon Book Awards honor the state’s finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, graphic literature, drama, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers. Oregon Literary Fellowships provide financial support to Oregon’s emerging and established writers and publishers.

2018 Oregon Book Awards Ceremony
April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gerding Theater at the Armory
Tickets start at $12, available at

On Monday, April 30, Literary Arts will host our annual celebration of the state’s most accomplished writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, young readers, and graphic literature. This event draws an audience of over 500 literary enthusiasts from our local community and beyond. Young adult author Renée Watson will host this year’s event.


Judges: Eowyn Ivey, Shanthi Sekaran, Justin Tussing
Omar El Akkad of Portland, American War (Knopf)
Wayne Harrison of Springfield, Wrench and Other Stories (New American Press)
Victor Lodato of Ashland, Edgar and Lucy (St. Martin’s Press)
Matthew Robinson of Portland, The Horse Latitudes (Propeller Books)
Lidia Yuknavitch of Milwaukie, The Book of Joan (HarperCollins)  

Judges: Chris Abani, Laura Kasischke, D.A. Powell

manuel arturo abreu of Portland, transtrender (Quimérica Books)
Samiya Bashir of Portland, Field Theories (Nightboat Books)
Allison Cobb of Portland, After We All Died (Ahsahta Press)  
Stephen Lackaye of Beaverton, Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape (Unicorn Press)
Ed Skoog of Portland, Run the Red Lights (Copper Canyon Press)


2018 Readers’ Choice Award

Cast your vote in the Readers’ Choice Award survey and help your favorite Oregon Book Award finalist win a special honor. The winner will also be announced live at the ceremony on April 30. Click here to vote.

New Work in Sinister Wisdom!

Sinister Wisdom 107: Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution lifts up the voices of African-American lesbians for us all to hear, see, and know.

The creative work in Sinister Wisdom 107: Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution gathers together new writing by an array of emerging and established black lesbian and queer women writers. 

Sinister Wisdom 107 invites us all as readers, thinkers, activists, and cultural workers to engage in meaningful and productive ways with the voices and works of African-American lesbians as they write and imagine new worlds.

Get your copy now!

Samiya Supernovas OPB's State of Wonder!

Samiya Supernovas OPB's State of Wonder!
"It’s easy to find poetry in science, from the ring of Latin names to the construction of an elegant theory. It’s a harder thing to find science in poetry. But that is the genesis of Portland poet Samiya Bashir’s book “Field Theories,” where poems titled after scientific principles like “Planck’s Constant” and “Synchronous Rotation” plumb the space where theories collide with real life: from the back seat of a taxi to jazz clubs, early morning cigarettes, human fables, gun violence and Groucho Marx."
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Lambda Literary Reviews FIELD THEORIES...

"One thing’s for sure," muses Lambda's Shane Michael Manieri, "Field Theories contains an energy, or energies, and Bashir explores every aspect of it/them." 

Of Field Theories, Adrian Matejka said, “There is so much happening in these poems…” And it’s true. There are poems in the voices of John Henry and his wife, Polly Annin sections titled “Coronagraphy,”—a coronagraph, as some may know, is a telescope that uses a disk to block the Sun’s bright surface so that one might be able to see things close to it. However, one can’t help but think of a Coronary Angiography, which is a scientifically medical system that X-rays the chest to detect blockages in the heart—which have the literary craftsmanship of Jean Toomerand is a further study into the relationship between the monumental black figure—be it male or female—and social science, people and their environment, their societies and have the lyrical ballad swing of the language we hear on the street mixed with the colorful characters of the American folklore: man against machine, man against boss, man against the power structure.

Poems that describe "with scientific precision the position of the black body in American culture"

Starting with her title, Field Theories, Samiya Bashir challenges the vocabulary of science, finding inflections and echoes within that vocabulary of the long and brutal history of race and racially based economic exploitation in the U.S.A. When used within the respective sciences of physics, psychology and social science, the term “field theory” (singular) has specific meanings. “Unified field theory,” in particular, coined by Albert Einstein, refers to the attempt to find a single framework behind all that exists (gravity, however, continues to escape this effort). But by changing “theory” to “theories,” (plural) Bashir subverts that idea of a singular framework to reveal the multiplicity of reality: where there is one reality there will be other realities told in various forms, splitting the dominant narrative into a prism of narratives. In contrasts and convergences, she questions history (histories) and how it is (they are) articulated in even the most objective of “fields.” In fact, “field” itself is a loaded word within slavery’s context, indicating enforced agricultural labor... [read the full review]

Thanks to Marcella Durand @ Hyperallergic for sharing love out in the field. Check out their new review of FIELD THEORIES below, and click through to read the whole thing.

Seasonal Pedagogy

As Portland digs itself slowly out of the long long winter season, I'm pulling my kiddoes out of the classroom and into the streets. The weeks of field trips have begun! Today we had sun! We had blossoms blooming on trees! We had flowers sprouting from buried bulbs! We all piled into my car and flipped ekphrasis on its head!

We've spent a little time this past month also interrogating artists and art practices that intersect with poetry. The divine Alison Saar came to our class and we talked about our own collaborative projects, as well as projects she's done with Evie Shockley and Erica Hunt. I was thrilled to introduce my students to ARCADE. It's such a beautiful book. I'm sad it's out of print. Call and clamor to Kelsey Street Press to print more! 

And today, we headed up into NE Portland to visit Letra Chueca Press, run by the indomitable Daniela Ragan (my collaborator for our beautiful Poetry Salon broadsides).

What a great field trip our Artist/2/Artist: Experiments in Ekphrasis class had visiting Letra Chueca! We talked poetry, art making, gift economy, printing, ekphrasis, and even printed a little take-away. Thanks to great students, great sunshine, great artists and collaborators: it's time to open ourselves up to all that is new. Go outside and learn something!