Sudanese-American poet and activist, Emtithal Mahmoud, expresses "the real emotions behind the headlines" according to this Guardian article. She was born in Darfur and moved to Yemen before settling in the US in 1998. She wrote her poem “Mama” after her grandmother died of cancer in Sudan. She had survived famine and war, but ultimately, a lack of access to medical research is what took her life. In crafting her poems, Mahmoud explores her feelings through her poetry and shares her experience as a young black Muslim woman in America. She performs to express herself and to be the voice that she didn’t have growing up.
While studying molecular, cellular and developmental biology and anthropology at Yale University, she was named one of BBC’s 100 most inspirational women in 2015. She also won the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship in Washington DC. She even spoke at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences nuclear ethics conference. Armed with a powerful platform, she began shinning a light on the pervading violence in Sudan and the experiences of refugees. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, she spends a lot of time with Sudanese locals to raise awareness for peace and even hosts “poetry town halls” that encourage participants to express themselves in a safe space. She also plans workshops and organizes community groups. Her goal in her work as an activist and poet is to “create and inspire a collective responsibility for peace” and to convince people that they deserve to be heard.