I am a Poet: Raena Shirali

I am a _____ 5.22.2020

Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), which won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a 2018 VIDA scholarship, a 2017 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University, and a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. Her poems have also received prizes from Cosmonauts Avenue in 2016 and Gulf Coast in 2014. Shirali’s poems & reviews have appeared widely in American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A Day, The Nation, The Rumpus, & elsewhere. She recently co-organized We (Too) Are Philly—a summer poetry festival highlighting voices of color—and serves as Poetry Editor for Muzzle Magazine. Shirali lives in Philadelphia, where she is an Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University. Learn more at

What are you eating for comfort?

Dark chocolate covered espresso beans. These provide a delightful snack break, the (placebo?) effect of munching on a small amount of caffeine, a dessert that goes well with a fruity cabernet. Plus they come in a giant tub so I only need to re-up once a month!.

What are you binge watching? re-watching?

Schitt’s Creek for levity. Love Island for escapism. Little Fires Everywhere to support everything Celeste Ng touches.

What was the last thing that made you smile or laugh?

Every day that my partner and I are around my dog for these concentrated elongated stretches of time, he (the pup) seems to get goofier and goofier. We make up songs and little dances that his ears do. Last night he fell asleep with his mouth open and all his crooked teeth hanging out while he was snoring. I think I was screaming more than laughing at that point.

What is a poem you’d like to share with our readers?

Anthem by Ariana Reines:

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

I’m currently offering a digital version of my first book, GILT, in exchange for a screenshot or proof of donation to any pandemic-related funds! My first choices are the Philadelphia Writers Emergency Grant and Philly Mutual Aid Fund, but any help you can give is help I am happy to reward with poems. You can contact me through the form on my website.

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