A Brooklyn-Based Poet to Watch

June 14, 2022

Alum Ashna Ali was named Poet of the Week by Brooklyn Poets.

Ashna Ali
Ashna Ali (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature) is a queer, agender Bangladeshi diasporic poet, writer, researcher, and educator. (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

Congratulations to Ashna Ali (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature) who was named the Poet of the Week for June 13–19, 2022, by Brooklyn Poets, a nonprofit organization that celebrates and cultivates the poets, poetry, and literary heritage of Brooklyn. The organization published Ali’s poem “New York, I Love You” and interviewed Ali about being a Brooklyn poet.

Ali writes at the end of the poem,

How could I be lonely
in this cacophony. My Vermont lover says babe,

you’re made for that city. This filth in which we
refuse to look up but are always gazing

deep in the mirror, begging.

In the accompanying interview, Ali said that they wrote the poem in March 2022 during a period of transition. "It’s often in these moments that New Yorkers find ourselves wondering why we put up with high rent, cold weather and punishing labor to stay in this town. Ultimately it’s about knowing full well — at least, this is true for me — that no place else will do, and that often no place else will have us. This poem is an expression of that tension.”

Ali, who was raised in Italy and has resided in Brooklyn since their undergraduate days at NYU, is a queer, agender Bangladeshi diasporic poet, writer, researcher, and educator. They are the author of the chapbook The Relativity of Living Well and, according to Brooklyn Poets, have work published or forthcoming in journals including the Indiana Review, Sundog Lit, Kajal, Breadcrumbs, and Bone Bouquet.

Ali gave the address on behalf of the graduates at the Graduate Center’s 55th Commencement in May 2019.

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