Selected Writings

Blood Trauma

The Rumpus (May 2017)

My mother left when I was two. When I was five, I asked my father to tell me the story of her leaving, the story of the end of their marriage, of her absence. He said that she believed he could give me a better life…

My First Panic Attack

The New York Times (May 2017)

I had just moved to New York from Kampala, Uganda, to start college at Pace University. I was on a bus, on my way to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

My Uncle Bob, with whom I stayed for a week in the Bronx before moving into my dorm, told me to get a nondriver…

A Place to Bury Our Bones

Columbia Journal (April 2017)

The morning after Seth and I had our first fight that was, in typical first fight fashion, about nothing and everything at once, I woke up before he did. He’d kicked the covers off, or I yanked them from him in my sleep. His skin was blotched with pink and covered in goosebumps, so I pulled the quilt over him, gently. His eyelids quivered open….

Something in the Water

The Cossack Review (September 2016)

Water is the essential substance. It flows through the earth’s rivers and streams, tying the ocean, the atmosphere, and the land together. It flows through the veins of living things, nourishing and filtering, and regulating….

The Wailing: On a father’s death

Catapult (May 2016)

Downstairs it was hot and smelled like sweat, flowery perfume, and food—pepper soup, fish in palm nut oil, coconut rice. The fluorescent lighting added to the calming cold sterility of the guest bathroom where I hid from the wailing. In here, nothing had changed….

The Other Side of the Wall

Assignment (March 2016)

We watched from a safe distance. The civil war and the poverty that it wrought had brought us here, but we were only observers. In the morning, the guards, armed with rifles and machetes, opened the gates to let out our fleet of chauffeured white SUVs …

So Devilish a Fire

The Atlas Review Chapbook Series

My Chapbook “So Devilish a Fire” is now available for pre-order from The Atlas Review. Julian Randall, award-winning author of the debut poetry collection, Refuse, has this to say of “So Devilish a Fire.”

Nadia Owusu’s So Devilish a Fire is a chorus “possible only through fire and mother.” In this chapbook, Owusu’s rigorous inquiry of multiracial identity, nation, ancestry and what traditions ask us to “burn to be beautiful” is the manuscript, song and voice I have waited all my life to sing and singe alongside of. It’s an honor to live in the time of such lyric. In the tradition of June Jordan, who told the truth to become beautiful, Owusu is as unerasable as her forbears. Here, truly, is an author who writes a beauty that is a form of justice; gives me permission for some small, retroactive hope for the boy I was; and is for all of us who have had our bodies labeled a half-truth. To take this book in your hands is more than a gift—it is to receive permission to gleam.

A Good Mask

Short Story: Litro

It is four in the morning and I must prepare to recede. My weekdays begin with self-exorcism. Name, shame, secrete, wash, wipe clean, wring dry, sanitize. What I can’t expunge, I conceal. I blur and disguise.