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Nicole Sealey

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, a Daniel Varoujan Award and the Poetry International Prize, as well as fellowships from CantoMundo, Cave Canem Foundation, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and elsewhere. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the Executive Director at Cave Canem Foundation, Inc.


I’d like to be a spoiled rich white girl. —Venus Xtravaganza

I want to be married in church. In white.

Nothing borrowed or blue. I want a white

house in Peekskill, far from the city—white

picket fence fencing in my lily-white

lilies. O, were I whiter than white.

A couple kids: one girl, one boy. Both white.

Birthright. All the amenities of white:

golf courses, guesthouses, garage with white

washer/dryer set. Whatever else white

affords, I want. In multiples of white.

Two of nothing is something, if they’re white.

Never mind another neutral. Off-white

won’t do. What I’d like is to be white

as the unsparing light at tunnel’s end.

It's Not Fitness It's a Lifestyle

I’m waiting for a white woman

in this overpriced Equinox

to mistake me for someone other

than a paying member. I can see it now—

as I leave the steam room

(naked but for my wedding ring?)

she’ll ask whether I’ve finished

cleaning it. Every time

I’m at an airport I see a bird

flying around inside, so fast I can’t

make out its wings. I ask myself

what is it doing here? I’ve come

to answer: what is any of us?


“Legendary” was previously published in Tupelo Quarterly.

“It’s Not Fitness, It’s a Lifestyle,” was previously published in Buzzfeed Reader.

Both poems appear in Ordinary Beast (HarperCollins 2017)