Slaying With No Dents in My Afro


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Caira Lee finished first in Cleveland’s SlamU youth poetry finals in 2011, but declined her spot on the team in order to attend another national competition: the National Endowment for the Arts’ Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington, DC, where she was a finalist.  In 2012, she placed first in the SlamU finals again and traveled with the team to California, competing at Brave New Voices.  Caira gave the commencement speech at her high school graduation after her classmates voted her Most Likely to Change the World.  In 2013, she won a place on Cleveland’s Lake Effect Poetry adult slam team, and competed at National Poetry Slam in Boston.  She is currently studying at the College of Wooster, majoring in Political Science and Religious Studies.  She earned first place in the premiere Ubuntu Poetry Slam, and is the founder and coach of Know Eye Slam, Wooster’s first CUPSI team.

“To watch the woman grow and to watch the woman grow the poems are two distinct things.  Both are humbling, heart wrenching, inspiring, and necessary.  The book, like the poems, like the woman, are a testament to what it means to be young, female, black, terrified, and terrifying, and the effect of what occurs when you embrace it all at once.”  –Siaara “ControverSi” Freeman, 2012 Writing Wrongs co-champion

“‘No, angels, they’d rather salsa on supernovas or / tap dance on the curled bottom lip of Saturn.’  As I read, my mind traveled through a panoramic vortex of Caira’s imagination.  Her unorthodox wordplay kept me wanting more.  She is one of the reasons why my poem ‘I Stand to Listen’ continues to honor what I love about poetry.”  — Robb “FrostByte” King, author of “Konkerer” and “Frostbytten”

Features cover art and illustrations by Hardesty Minifie.