Praise for CANNIBAL


Winner of a Whiting Writers Award
Longlisted for the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize
An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year
Longlisted for the 2017 OCM Bocas Prize
Longlisted for the 2017 PEN Open Book Award
One of BuzzFeeds Best Poetry Books of 2016
One of The New Yorkers Books We Loved in 2016”
A Publishers Weekly Poetry Top 10” for Fall 2016
One of BuzzFeed Books Best Literary Debuts of 2016
A Poets & Writers Top Ten Poetry Debut of 2016
One of The Roots Best Books of 2016 By Black Authors
A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2016
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry


A “stunning debut collection.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Reading (and rereading) Sinclair is an urgently necessary, absolutely unparalleled experience.
Booklist (Starred Review)

Sharp observations on our off-kilter world will spark your emotions while engaging your mind.”—The American Library Association, Notable Book Citation

“Filled with beautifully rich imagery...Lyrical and provocative, Sinclair’s poems teach the reader in rich language what it means to be “other.””—BuzzFeed Books

“You can never forget Sinclair is a singer in the deepest sense. Mermaid and siren, you won’t ever quite catch the agile poet, but you’ll be dazzled as she arcs these poems into deep and glittering waters.”—Kenyon Review 

“Much like June Jordan and Audre Lorde, Sinclair is a force to be reckoned with. Her stanzas will revive you and leave you transformed.”— Lenny Letter

Cannibal pulsates with the lushness of Jamaica, its flora, fauna, rhythms, sea....Merging rage and rigor, the fierce voices of her black female personae embody emancipation and revenge...Teasing out their venom, these incantatory “songs” redeem the voice of Caliban and of all those “cannibals” spawned by Western conquest.”—World Literature Today

“A beautiful, complicated, radical book.”—Book Thug

“Scorching the sea of postcolonial poetry, this award-winning collection comes to eat you. Sinclair, in conversation with Shakespeare, Derek Walcott, and Kamau Brathwaite, sings her lyrics with the force of hurricane gales. Through figures of the slave, the woman as daughter, the mermaid, and the cannibal, Sinclair rewrites agency and subscribes a voice of fire to the subaltern.”—Waxwing Magazine

“Safiya Sinclair revitalizes language with her keen imagery and vivid language...asking us to reconsider everything we know through every pitch-perfect word in this collection.”—The Root

Cannibal is a fervent book that shackles me to read, reread, read out, and perform its poems...truly magical, hypnotic, and devastating.” —The Adroit Journal

Cannibal never lets us become too comfortable with our own modern, “progressive” racial attitudes...And though we may not always like what we hear about our part in perpetuating this false supremacy, Sinclair reminds us remaining a stranger to the truth has never been a path to progress.”—American Microreviews & Interviews

“Rich and mythic, heavy with the legacy of family and history, many of Safiya Sinclair’s poems are inspired by her childhood in Jamaica; a richness and density in the imagery conveys a lush beauty and danger...Follow her sparkling, detailed phrasings and lines and you will arrive drenched in human contact...There often seems to be dialectics at play between wildness and control. Her poems reveal she is in full bougainvillea bloom.”—2016 Whiting Award Selection Committee

“Safiya Sinclair writes strange, mythological, gorgeously elaborate lyric poems, with a diction that is both arcane and contemporary. . . . Her language is distinctive, assured, and a marvel to read.”—Cathy Park Hong, from her introduction in the Boston Review

Cannibal is nothing less than an entrancing debut that reveals the teeming intellect and ravishing lucidity of a young poet in full possession of her literary powers. Here is a poetry that richly interrogates power and history while also eloquently and furtively asserting the possibilities of nature, desire, and the body as ceremonial and spiritual sources of resistance and affirmation.”—Major Jackson, author of Roll Deep

“With exquisite lyrical precision, Safiya Sinclair is offering us a new muscular music that is as brutal as it is beautiful. Intelligent and elemental, these poems mark the debut of a poet who is dangerously talented and desperately needed.”—Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things

Chapbook, Argos Books (2011)