Muslim Journal Newswire

(Published in Muslim Journal, Vol 47, No 5, October 15, 2021)

NEWARK, N.J. – Ameerah Shabazz-Bilal, a native of Newark, has a unique talent for telling stories through poetry and Visual Arts. She is also a teacher and photographer and founder/facilitator of “When Women Speak” and “When People Speak” – poetry platforms for creative voices, giving support and empowerment. 

She is the author/illustrator of “Breathing Through Concrete,” a poetry anthology.  Her works are featured in publications like “Every Kinda Lady and Her Sister Pages” and “Philadelphia Says, Black Lives Matter.”  

Photo Credit: FotoFrenzi

Ameerah has to her credit “inspiring and publishing” over 300 student authors and illustrators and the facilitation of many student performances. Her mantra is: “Poetry isn’t poetry unless it’s Spoken … Word.”

She says, “It’s taken me a moment to digest and be able to say how completely honored I am to have been selected for this prestigious award – The Maria Mazziotti Gillan Literary Service Award.

“Thank you all who were involved with the nomination of all the highly regarded candidates alongside me. And yes, thank you for presenting me with such an honor.”

The Gillan Award is gifted to one recipient each year to those who, like the award’s namesake, have made great contributions to poetry and poets. They, like Gillan, are passionate educators who work to push new poets to their greatest potential, while creating space for established poets to share their voices.

Photo Credit: FotoFrenzi

Maria Mazziotti Gillan made a tremendous mark on the world of poetry and on the great City of Paterson, N.J., in particular. As a Paterson native, she has dedicated over 40 of her 80+ years to making space for poets. 

From Gillan’s poem, “Spike Heels,” it’s noted that her “heels” have gone lower and lower, while her contributions to the literary community has grown greater and greater. And she still “continues pounding through life on confident feet.” 

Past recipients of the Maria Mazziotti Gillan Award are Annemarie Vannatta and Yvonne Nambe Roach. Each of the recipients have influenced young writers, supported professional writers and have done so consistently for multiple decades.

(For more information, follow on social media #wordseed and #patersonpoetryfest

For more on Maria Mazziotti Gillan, visit

For more information on Ameerah, visit @Ameerah SHABAZZ-Bilal on FB and IG,  and,

Photo Credit: FotoFrenzi

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  1. Congratulations, May Allah continue to bless you to use your gift to support and inspire other writers. Your work is beautiful and inspiring.

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