Faylita Hicks

Faylita Hicks (she/they) is a queer Afro-Latinx activist, writer, and interdisciplinary artist crafting poems, essays, photography, digital art, spoken word, and narrative short films that translate progressive anti-carceral policies into imaginable outcomes.

Born in South Central California and raised in Central Texas, they use their intersectional experiences to advocate for the rights of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people by interpreting policy’s impact on the individual. Centering restorative storytelling techniques, they focus on decolonized strategies for healing, justice, and liberation.

They are the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry, the forthcoming poetry collection A Map of My Want (Haymarket Books, 2024), and debut memoir about their carceral experience A Body of Wild Light (Haymarket Books, 2025).

The former Editor-in-Chief of Black Femme Collective and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, they are a voting member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs and the Songwriters and Composers Committee for the Texas Chapter. Hicks is also the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Black Mountain Institute, the Tony- Award winning Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Civil Rights Corps, Lambda Literary, Texas After Violence Project, Tin House, and the Right of Return USA. Faylita is a 2022 recipient of Art for Justice’s New Visions for Shared Safety grant, allowing them to create work that envisions a world without mass incarceration.

Their poetry, essays, and digital art have been published in or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Kenyon Review, Longreads, Poetry, Slate, Texas Observer, The Slowdown Podcast, Yale Review, amongst others. Their personal account of their time in pretrial incarceration in Hays County is featured in the ITVS Independent Lens 2019 documentary 45 Days in a Texas Jail, and the Brave New Films 2021 documentary narrated by Mahershala Ali Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem.

Right of Return Project

Flowers in a Field of Terror: Poetry and Digital Art Collection

Flowers in a Field of Terror features original portraits and digital collages of previously incarcerated and formerly detained people experiencing joy alongside poems designed to envision the potential outcomes of recent legislation such as the 2021 Abolition Amendment and the 2021 People’s Response Act. A portion of the work revises the Declaration of Independence as a contemporary proposal for a constitutional restructuring that prioritizes the needs and desires of the historically marginalized people in the US. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

On the impact of a Right of Return Fellowship:

“As an artist and writer based in a rural Texas county, I found it difficult to take part in the critical conversations that were taking place in the larger arts and literary communities throughout the country. I received my fellowship at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and would end up doing much of the early work on my project from my home as we were all quarantined. What I appreciated about Right of Return was that it allowed me to get my project and other work in front of the people who I had long admired from afar and meaningfully connect me with those communities I was once unable to reach. As the first of my fellowships, it confirmed for me what I had been hoping was true–that the work I was doing had a place in the world and could be a real catalyst for change in the right space. I know I wouldn’t have the career I have now–as a full-time artist and writer–without the initial support of Right of Return. I look at the other fellows, at this organization, and know that we are all taking part in a movement that will, in time, change the outcomes for hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the carceral system. It really feels like a dream come true.”