Emma Lazarus Project

The Emma Lazarus Project explores the story of Emma Lazarus, a fifth-generation American Jew caught in an important turning point in American and Jewish History. The initiative—including an exhibit, curriculum and poetry contest—uses primary sources straight from the archive to encourage students to piece together Emma’s fascinating story, and to join the ongoing conversation about American identity.

Moira Camp: A New Colossus

by Ojo Taiye




beginning with a line from Ilya Kaminsky & after
Torrin A. Greathouse & Cortney Lamar Charleston

i was in my bed, around my bed— & the world was falling.
consider how much hurt will be the prize of negligence.

what could i possibly offer to save them— on this ground,
where my bones or what shapes me, has now been severe,

taught that it doesn’t belong— where i cannot say malnutrition
& not suggest asylum. here, i see a child’s soft simulation of home,

& think first of my grandmother, her teeth antiqued by cigarette
smoke— how she makes a lush garden grow on her backyard,

every spring— these young shoots of familial histories, of narrative
thread— damaged fruits like the silence of snapped bough, bird-less

feathers unhinged from inside a gaping mouth— a poem that can be
read after a question’s heft. where a child’s sky does not suggest holy

green, or all those healthy children, with no other thought but to thrive.
here, the days are thick with migraine. bodies deprived to the point

of shame—& i think of my little sister who puts her lot beside my bed in
the shack. perhaps, this doesn’t convey resemblance—we need a home & a

crow eyes me from a tree, colluding with my past, by distance, distance
meaning apocalypse, meaning calving glaciers, meaning heartbreak.