Fatimah Asghar – VIDA Voices & Views Interview (Part II)

About This Episode: This is Part II of a two-part interview. In this episode of VIDA Voices and Views, Melissa Studdard interviews poet and filmmaker, Fatimah Asghar, who reads the poems “Medusa’s Dinner Party” and “WWE” and talks about topics ranging from the importance of community to writing the book that could have helped ones teenage self.

About Fatimah Asghar: Nationally touring poet, writer, educator, and performer Fatimah Asghar is the author of the chapbook After from Yes Yes Books and the poetry collection, If They Come for Us, forthcoming from One World/ Random House. She is also the writer and co-creator of Brown Girls, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Her work has appeared in many journals, including POETRY Magazine, BuzzFeed Reader, and the Academy of American Poets. As well, her work has been featured on PBS, NPR, Time, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and other news outlets. In 2011 she created a spoken word poetry group in Bosnia and Herzegovina called REFLEKS while on a Fulbright to study theater in post-genocidal countries. In 2017 she was the recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow.

Photograph by Jason Riker

To learn more about Fatimah Asghar, please visit: https://www.fatimahasghar.com

Fatimah Asghar Quotes from This Episode of VIDA Voices & Views

“I wanted to write a book that, if I had read the book when I was a teenager or in college, it could have helped me.”

“I’m Muslim. I love Islam. I love my religion, but I also can critique it and have things that I write about that are not considered fully halal.”

“There are different communities that I’ve been a part of and different people who have treated me like family. That is why I make my art. A lot of what I’m trying to do is create some of those deeper connections in relationships and community, especially in terms of solidarity among people of color.’

“We can’t be free or full humans if we are still being oppressed or locked up in chains. The key to our collective liberation is that kind of movement, focus, and ability to stand for each other.”

“You can’t be overly invested in what people say about you. Otherwise, it’s unhealthy. It breaks you, especially in a world of literary work where you get rejection all the time and you feel really small. It’s important to remember that, if you are doing right by yourself and your people, you are doing right.”

“I want to create a better world. I want to create more equality in this world. I want to stand up for the things that I see that are wrong. I want to build solidarity. In every poem, I won’t do all of that, but I can try my hardest to dedicate my life to making poems that cover as much of that as I can.”

About VIDA Voices & Views

VIDA Voices & Views is a video and audio interview program designed to call attention to a plurality of voices by interviewing writers, editors, publishers, series curators, anthologists, awards committee members, and other dedicated members of the literary community about their own work, vision, and concerns, as well as topics at the forefront of literary activism. The program seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the literary landscape and the issues facing artists of all genders, as well as to foster nuanced conversation about gender parity, race, disability, LGBTQ, economic, and other crucial issues impacting writers today.

VIDA Voices & Views interviews feature Rita Dove, Gregory Pardlo, Don Share, Patricia Smith, Fatimah Asghar, and Cheryl Strayed. Our next interview will spotlight award-winning poet and musician Joy Harjo. Listen anytime via either the VIDA website or the podcast website:

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