Kamelya Omayma Youssef is a poet, teacher, and literary worker based between New York and Dearborn/Detroit, with roots in Lebanon. She tends to blur the borders between forms and hopes that one day borders are obliterated entirely.
She is the author of A book with a hole in it, forthcoming in 2022 with Wendy’s Subway. Her poems and lyric essays have been published or are forthcoming in the The Margins, Mizna, Poem-a-Day, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Cordite Poetry Review, at the Poetry Project, Bird’s Thumb, several Arab American anthologies, an exhibit catalog, and on the theater stage. She has been awarded residencies by Habibi House and the Arab American National Museum, and was a 2021 cohort member of The Mae Fellowship. Recently, she co-wrote and acted in the NEA funded experimental play Kilo Batra: In Death More Radiant, an intensive research-based co-writing project for ensemble theater.
She graduated with her MFA in Poetry from NYU, where she also taught a course on writing through the apocalypse. She also studied for her MA in English at Wayne State University, where she did research on the poetics of Etel Adnan, and also won several poetry awards. Her decade of experience as an educator includes youth and adult classrooms in metro-Detroit and NYC, Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and with incarcerated writers. She holds a double bachelors in English and Arab & Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan, where she was also a dialogue facilitator in the Program on Intergroup Relations, and an anti-war organizer. She also continues to develop liberation-oriented creative workshops and pedagogies with her friends.
Her ongoing project is mastering the art of being in multiple places at once. More information can be found on her website: www.speekbird.com.