Skip to main content

Juliane Okot Bitek

Biography

Dr. Juliane Okot Bitek is a poet and scholar. Her 100 Days, a collection of poetry on how to remember the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, won the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry and the INDIEFAB Book of the Year (Poetry) Award. It was also nominated for several writing prizes. Juliane’s most recent academic articles and contributions include: “What Choices Between Nightmares: Intersecting Local, Global and Intimate Stories of Pain in Peacebuilding” Peace Building and the Arts (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2020); and “Conversations at the Crossroads: Indigenous and Black Writers Talk”, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature (2020) and “Treachery as Colonial Intent: A Poetic Response” Critical African Studies (2022); and “States of Being: The Poet & Scholar as a Black, African, & Diasporic Woman”, Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy: Teaching, Learning and Researching While Black, edited by Awad Ibrahim et al (U of Toronto Press, 2022). A is for Acholi, a poetry collection, is forthcoming the fall of 2022 by Wolsak and Wynn. She is an Assistant Professor in the Black Studies Program at Queen’s University, joint appointed in Gender Studies and English.

Research Interests

African literature; Black Studies; Creative Writing (especially poetry); Black theory; Black Diasporic literature; oral traditions; war and trauma literature; history and cultural memory; Black and Indigenous cultural relations

Selected Publications

A Is for Acholi

Wolsak & Wynn
2022

A Is for Acholi is a sweeping collection exploring diaspora, the marginalization of the Acholi people, the dusty streets of Nairobi and the cold grey of Vancouver. Playfully upending English and scholarly notation Otoniya J. Okot Bitek rearranges the alphabet, hides poems in footnotes and slips stories into superscripts. The poet opens up ways of rethinking history as she rewrites both the 1862 contact of the Acholi people with the British and the racist texts of Joseph Conrad, while also searching for a way to live on lands that are fraught with the legacies of colonization, similar to her ancestral homeland. With writing that is lyric, layered and deeply felt, the poems in A Is for Acholi unfold maps of history, culture and identity, tracing a route to a present where the poet dreams of writing a world without empire.

Creative writing description
  • African literature; Black Studies,
  • Creative Writing (especially poetry),
  • Black theory
  • Black Diasporic literature,
  • oral traditions,
  • war and trauma literature,
  • history and cultural memory,
  • Black and Indigenous cultural relations

Teaching in 2021-22:

 

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6
Canada

Telephone (613) 533-2153

Undergraduate

Graduate

Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.