June 22, 2022

Fatimah Asghar shares her personal experiences in reading poetry, questions and answers

Graphic by Emma Ruck

Fatima Asghar. The writer, performer and educator released her first collection of poems, “If They Come For Us”, in 2018.

Writer and educator Fatimah Asghar spoke about score, the political climate in the United States, and its creative process in a Thursday poetry and Q&A reading co-hosted by Rainbow Alliance and Bookends & Beginnings via Zoom.

Asghar’s reading featured works from his first book of poetry, “If They Come For Us”. Asghar said she took her time reworking the collection until she felt she captured all the different themes at the heart of her experience as a South Asian, Muslim American and gay woman struggling with the history of his family with the score.

Asghar addresses many identity-related topics in his poetry, including sexuality and multiculturalism. Asghar is also the co-creator of “Brown Girls,” an Emmy-nominated web series about two young women of color.

Deputy Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Matt Abtahi, the question-and-answer moderator, said he was struck by how quick he was to find Asghar’s job.

“(Asghar) so eloquently connects pieces of her culture and pieces of her faith and pieces of her family and pieces of her history to the way she gets to know and express herself,” said Abtahi. “It reminds and encourages me of my own personal practice and how I nurture community for others. “

Asghar spoke briefly about the current global social climate, which she says includes a rise in fascism and the police state in the United States and a rise in Islamophobia in South Asia. She stressed the importance of speaking out against these injustices.

Asghar also spoke of the 1947 Partition of India, which is a central subject of many of his poems. She said there is little dialogue on the score, which can be detrimental.

“When people engage with us, they don’t think about our whole story, and I think it’s a type of violence,” Asghar said.

Dori Carter, Rainbow Alliance external president, said the event was originally scheduled to take place in person this spring, but Rainbow Alliance has been postponed until this fall due to the pandemic.

Carter said she was especially happy to see attendees use the chat feature to share that Asghar’s stories resonated with them. She also said she was personally inspired to hear from a South Asian poet.

“I want more queer artists and color designers and color designers like me to be the people I think of when I think of queer art (and) when I think of poetry in general,” Carter said.

In the question-and-answer session, Asghar spoke about the importance of building a supportive community in order to uplift queer artists and artists of color.

“What I really hope for in our collective longevity is that we can really make art on our own terms,” said Asghar. “My advice to future young people of color is to really invest in each other… and really have that trust in each other.”

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @waverly_long

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