Kiini Ibura Salaam is a writer and visual artist from New Orleans, Louisiana—which is the original home of the Chitimacha Tribe. The middle child of five, she grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood full of oak and fig trees, locusts and mosquitoes, cousins and neighbors. The house no longer exists, having been reduced to rubble along with almost all of the houses in a six-block radius after the 2005 levee break in the Lower Ninth Ward.
A member of the first generation of post- segregation African Americans, Kiini grew up with creative parents who charted an independent cultural and intellectual path. Influenced by a childhood that was rich with art, music, and books, Kiini naturally gravitated toward reading and writing. She wrote her first professional story as a first-year student at Spelman College. After being paid $100 for the publication of that story, her identity as a writer was buoyed and she proclaimed herself a “serious” author.
Kiini’s work encompasses speculative fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Her writing is rooted in speculative events, magical worlds, and women’s perspectives. Her speculative fiction has been included in such publications as: Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, FEMSPEC, Ideomancer.com, infinitematrix.com and PodCastle.org. One of her earlier (and most distinctive) stories “Of Wings, Nectar, and Ancestors” was translated into Polish and her collection Ancient, Ancient was co-winner of the 2012 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her second collection, When the World Wounds, explores the human condition in the shadows of trauma.
Kiini’s creative nonfiction speaks to her two passions: the freedom of women and the freedom of the creative spirit. In essays about date rape, sexual harassment, and the power of the word no, Kiini explores the complex layers of societal norms that negatively impact women’s lives. These essays have been published in Essence, Ms., and Colonize This! Her article “Navigating to No,” sparked a spate of radio interviews, a television appearance, and a college seminar, as well as earned a personal commentary award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Her essay “No,” which appeared in both Ms. magazine and Utne Reader, was included in the Longman Publishers composition guide, Reading Into Writing. Her creative nonfiction has been included in college curricula in the areas of women’s studies, anthropology, history, and English.
For the past ten years, Kiini has written the KIS.list, an e-column that explores the writing life and encourages readers to fulfill their dreams. These posts have been collected in the Notes From the Trenches e-book series. She works as an editor and content director. She and her daughter live in Brooklyn, NY—the original home of the Lenape Tribe.