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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Abdullah-Matta’s The Making of Blackprint: Poetry Reading & Craft Talk

Poet Allia Abdullah-Matta ‘visited’ WSU this past month. Image source:

It was a pleasure to sit in on Allia Abdullah-Matta’s discussion Wednesday, February 16 as part of Westfield State University’s Black History Month events this week. Many thanks to the sponsorship of our Ethnic & Gender Studies, EGST 230-02: A LatinX and African American History of the US, and The English Department for making this possible!

 Professor Caldwell hosted The Making of Blackprint: Poetry Reading & Craft Talk and Aliah White introduced Allia Abdullah-Matta. We were so fortunate to have her, an accomplished poet and Professor of English at CUNY LaGuardia, where she teaches composition, literature, creative writing, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies courses (WGS).

She also was the co-recipient of the The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Poetry (2018) from The City College of New York (CCNY). She has featured at the Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon Anniversary (2017), for Newtown Literary at the NYC Poetry Festival (2017), and the Poets & Writers Cross Cultural Reading (2018), and for No Dear Magazine Poets Who Love Poets (2018). 

Allia Abdullah-Matta generously shared her time to discuss Blackprint, her current poetry manuscript in the works, share some of her poetry and her process!  She explained how she is influenced by everything she is and reads. She was born and raised in Queens, NY, has a Doctorate in African American Studies, visited west coast of Africa where her ancestor’s came from and includes all of this in her work. Allia loves exploring history, art, other poets and writers, as well as going to museums where she takes photos and notes for inspiration. A lot of her work comes from playing with image and text.

“Scarred” by Allia Abdullah-Matta. Image credit:

One of Abdullah-Matta’s earliest poetic influences is Sonya Sanchez, the American poet, writer, and professor who was a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement, whom she studied under. Other poetic influences include Adrian Rich, Baraka, and Baldwin, noting the poetic styles of Cubism, Surrealism, and Dadaism all play into her work. These influences can be seen in her collage poem Blackprint Zuihitsu and her list poem that tells a story, Night People.

The whole discussion was motivating to the many students, writers, professors and faculty in attendance. Allia Abdullah-Matta offered us notes on her process that we may find helpful in our own work, such as; good writers read a lot to have a great repertoire, the importance of reading your work aloud, and suggested to print your texts out then lay them on the floor to see what goes together.

The entire discussion was truly a joy! All of us in attendance are so grateful to Allia Abdullah-Matta and Professor Caldwell for inviting her!


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