Fatimah Asghar is a Pakistani-Kashmiri-American poet and screenwriter. Co-creator and writer for the Emmy-nominated webseries Brown Girls, her work has appeared in POETRY Magazine,[1] Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets,[2] and other publications.

Asghar is a member of the Dark Noise Collective[3] and a Kundiman Fellow.[4] She received the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation in 2017,[5] and has been featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.[6]

Early lifeEdit

Asghar's parents were from Kashmir and Pakistan and immigrated to the United States. They both died by the time she was five, leaving her an orphan.[7] "As an orphan, something I learned was that I could never take love for granted, so I would actively build it," she told HelloGiggles in 2018.[8]

Asghar's identity as an orphan is a major theme in her work, her poem "How'd Your Parents Die Again?" opens with the lines:

Again? As though I told you how the first time. Everyone always tries to theft, bring them back out the grave.[9] In her poem "Super Orphan," Asghar once again explores the impact of their absence.

Woke up, parents still

dead. Outside, the leaves yawn,

re-christen themselves as spring.[10]

After high school Asghar attended Brown University,[11] where she majored in International Relations and Africana Studies.[12] It was not until she was in college that Asghar learned about how the Partition of India had deeply impacted her family. Her uncle described how the family was forced to leave Kashmir for Lahore and told her about the impact of being refugees in a new land affected them. Learning about her family's firsthand experience during partition had a profound effect on Asghar and her work. ""I've been constantly thinking about it, and looking back into it and trying to understand exactly what happened," she said in 2018.[13]

Along with her orphanhood, the legacy of Partition is another major theme in her poetry. "Partition is always going to be a thing that matters to me and influences me," she once said. "When your people have gone through such historical violence, you cannot shake it."[14]

Brown GirlsEdit

In 2017, Asghar and Sam Bailey released their acclaimed web series Brown Girls. Written by Asghar and directed by Bailey, the series is based on Asghar's friendship with the artist Jamila Woods and their experiences as two women of color navigating their twenties. The two main characters are a queer Pakistani-American writer and an African-American musician and are played by Nabila Hossain and Sonia Denis respectively.[15]

"Often, our friends joke that we are each other’s life partners, or 'real wifeys.'" Asghar told NBC News of her friendship with Woods. "And in a lot of ways we are. Jamila gets me through everything. She’s seen me at my worst, at my best, at my most insecure — everything."[16]

Brown Girls received an Emmy nomination in 2017 in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category.[17]

Works Edit

  • Halal if You Hear Me, co-edited with Safia Elhillo (Haymarket Books, 2019)
  • If They Come for Us (One World/Random House, 2018)
  • After (YesYes Books, 2015)

References Edit

  1. Ashgar, Fatimah (2019-05-04). "If They Should Come for Us" (in en). 
  2. abrink (2016-07-01). "WWE by Fatimah Asghar - Poems | Academy of American Poets" (in en). 
  3. "Dark Noise: Fatimah Asghar, Franny Choi, Nate Marshall, Aaron Samuels, Danez Smith & Jamila Woods" (in en-us). 2018-05-27. 
  4. "Fellows" (in en-US). 
  5. "Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships" (in en-us). 2018-05-26. 
  6. "30 Under 30 2018: Hollywood & Entertainment" (in en). 
  7. "For poet Fatimah Asghar, the word 'orphan' has more than one meaning" (in en-us). 2015-11-02. 
  8. "How Fatimah Asghar turned the traumas of colonialism and diaspora into poetry" (in en). 
  9. Asghar, Fatimah; Dove, Rita (2019-02-08). "Poem: How’d Your Parents Die Again?" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  10. "Fatimah Asghar: Two Poems" (in en). 2015-05-12. 
  11. "Fatimah Asghar '11 on the Emmy-Nominated Webseries Recently Acquired by HBO | Mellon Mays Fellowship". 
  12. "How They Got There: Sam Bailey & Fatimah Asghar, Creators of Brown Girls" (in en). 
  13. Camp, Devlyn. "Fatimah Asghar’s first collection of poetry, If They Come for Us, is a warning about the consequences of ignoring history" (in en). 
  14. "How Fatimah Asghar turned the traumas of colonialism and diaspora into poetry" (in en). 
  15. Brown Girls,, retrieved 2019-05-05 
  16. "'Brown Girls' web series writer: 'We don't need permission' to tell our stories" (in en). 
  17. "Brown Girls" (in en). 

External links Edit

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