As a child, Emtithal Mahmoud fled war in the Darfur region of Sudan. She says growing up as a Muslim woman and an immigrant in Philadelphia, she soon discovered a love for poetry. This enabled her to not only articulate her experiences in Darfur, but also put a human face to the international crisis. “What I try to do, by sharing what I’ve seen and what my family’s been through, is to make people more sensitized to the humanity behind it,” says the 24-year-old poet. She tells Reuters that she has made it her life’s mission to “put people back in front of the numbers,” referring to refugee statistics.
After graduation from Yale University, Ms. Mahmoud won the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. In a poem about two young cousins killed in Sudan she writes: Eleven days ago, two bullets crossed off two more faces from my family tree… I want to be able to look at a sunrise and not see my entire family falling to pieces.
Ms. Mahmoud has recently worked on conflict resolution in Sudan, and has also traveled to Greece to help with the Syrian refugees crisis.