Omotara James


New York, NY
New York US

Author's Bio

Omotara James is the author of the poetry collection, Song of My Softening, from Alice James Books, February 2024. Her chapbook, Daughter Tongue, was selected by African Poetry Book Fund, (Akashic Books), for the 2018 New Generation African Poets Box Set.

James’ poems appear in print and digital journals, including The Poetry Foundation, The Nation, The Paris Review, The Los Angelos Review of Books Quarterly, The Believer, Literary Hub, Poetry Society of America and elsewhere. Her poetry was been featured several times in The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series,

She has performed on various stages including The 92NY, The Poetry Project, The New York City Poetry Festival and The Brooklyn Books Poetry Festival.

James’ work has been anthologised and selected for inclusion in Embodied: An Intersectional Feminist Comics Poetry Anthology (A Wave Blue World, 2021), Best Small Fictions (Sonder Press, 2020), Islands Are But Mountains (Platypus Press, 2019).

James is the recipient of a New York City Department of Cultural Affairs grant; a Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation Literature Award; a New York Foundation of the Arts Poetry Fellowship; an Artist Relief grant; a 92NY Discovery Poetry Award; a Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Award in Poetry; the inaugural Thomas Lux Scholarship from The Palm Beach Poetry Festival; a Nancy P. Schnader Academy of American Poets Prize. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and has been nominated several times for The Pushcart Prize; The Best of the Net Award and the Best American Poets Anthology. She has received residency fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and Lambda Literary, among other awards and recognitions.

Born in Britain, she is the daughter of Nigerian and Trinidadian immigrants. She has lived in England, Scotland and was raised primarily in America. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Hofstra University and an MFA in Poetry from New York University.

Former art therapist and social worker in the field of Harm Reduction, she instructs / has instructed workshops at New York University, The 92NY Unterberg Poetry Center, Cave Canem Foundation, The Hudson Valley Writers Center, Queens Public Library and elsewhere. Visit the contact page for manuscript editing / consultation inquiries and workshop bookings.

Publications & Prizes

Daughter Tongue (Akashic Books, 2018)
Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day
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Cosmonauts Avenue
Crab Fat Magazine
Lambda Literary
Literary Hub
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Paris Review
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The Coil
The Nation
Winter Tangerine Review
Prizes won: 

2023 J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize,

2021 Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation Literature Award

2020 NYSCA/NYFA Poetry Fellowship,

2019 92Y Discovery Prize,

2018 Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Award in Poetry

2009 Hofstra University Nancy P. Schnader Academy of American Poets Prize

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
Toni Morrison Vievee Francis Rita Dove Ai Lucille Clifton Hafizah Augustus Geter bell hooks Audre Lorde Sharon Olds Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo Elie Wiesel Kwame Dawes Chris Abani TC Tolbert Maaza Mengiste Renee Gladman Natasha Trethewey Ricardo Maldonado John Keane John Berryman Warsan Shire Wole Soyinka Franny Cho Ama Codjoe DéLana R.A. Dameron Kim Addonizio Cameron Awkward-Rich Sonia Sanchez Chinua Achebe Stephen Dobyns Ricardo Maldonado Gloria Naylor John Milton Vanessa Angélica Villarreal Phillip B. Williams Charles Simic Sahar Romani Marie Howe Lewis Warsh Donika Kelly Max Ritvo Frank Bidart Kiese Laymon Idra Novey Alex Chee Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Garth Greenwell Coco Mellors Ingrid Rojas Contreras T Kira Madden Terese Marie Mailhot
What I'm reading now: 
Heavy by Kiese Laymon, Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis, Arias by Sharon Olds, Those Who Knew by Idra Novey, Gephyromania by TC Tolbert, Wild is the Wind by Carl Phillips, Weary Kingdom by DéLana R. A. Dameron, Soft Targets by Deborah Landau

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
African American, Black, British, Caribbean, Feminist, LGBTQ, Other
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
English, French
Born in: 
London, LND
United Kingdom
Raised in: 
New York, NY
New York
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Dec 01, 2023