Fatimah Asghar


Fatimah Asghar is an artist who spans across different genres and themes. A poet, a fiction writer, and a filmmaker, Fatimah cares less about genre and instead prioritizes the story that needs to be told and finds the best vehicle to tell it. Play is critical in the development of their work, as is intentionally building relationship and authentic collaboration. Their first book of poems If They Come For Us explored themes of orphaning, family, Partition, borders, shifting identity, and violence. Along with Safia Elhillo, they co-edited Halal If You Hear Me, an anthology for Muslim people who are also women, trans, gender non-conforming, and/ or queer. The anthology was built around the radical idea that there are as many ways of being Muslim as there are Muslim people in the world. They also wrote and co-created Brown Girls, an Emmy-nominated web series that highlights friendship among women of color. Their debut lyrical novel, When We Were Sisters, explores sisterhood, orphaning, and alternate family building, and is forthcoming October 2022. While these projects approach storytelling through various mediums and tones, at the heart of all of them is Fatimah’s unique voice, insistence on creating alternate possibilities of identity, relationships and humanity then the ones that society would box us into, and a deep play and joy embedded in the craft. Source

Old Country (Edited)

Old Country Buffet, where our family

went on the days we saved enough money.

Everyone was in a good mood, even Ullu—

our uncle who never smiled or took off his coat


& dyed his hair black every two weeks

so we couldn’t tell how old he was. We marched

single file towards the gigantic red lettering

across the gravel parking lot to announce


our arrival. We, children carrying our rectangle 

backpacks brimming with homework, calculators

& Lisa Frank trapper keepers, for we knew this was a day

without escape, spread out across all the booths


possible while our family ate & ate & snuck

food into the Tupperware they smuggled in

& no matter how we begged & whined

or the waitresses yelled or threatened to charge


us more money we weren’t leaving 

until my greedy family had their fill.

O, Old Country! The only place

we could get dessert & eat as much of it


as we wanted before our actual meal.

The only place we didn’t have to eat all

the meat on our plates or else we were accused

of being wasteful, told our husbands


would have as many pimples as rice we left behind.

Here, our family reveled in the American 

way of waste, manifest destinied our way

through the mac & cheese, & green bean


casseroles, mythical foods we had only

heard about on TV where American 

children rolled their eyes in disgust. Here

we learned how to say I too have had meat loaf


& hate it, evidence we could bring back

to the lunch table as we guessed

what the other kids ate as they scoffed

at our biriyani. Here, the adults told


us if we didn’t like the strawberry shortcake

we could eat the ice cream or jello we could

get a whole plate just to try a bite

to turn up our noses & that was fine.


Here we loosened the drawstrings

on our shalwaars & gained ten pounds.

Here we arrived at the beginning of lunch

hour & stayed until dinner approached


until they made us leave. Here we learned

how to be American & say:

we got the money

we’re here to stay.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:







Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


the replacement of one part of speech for another, often referred to as a “functional shift.”


a break between words within a metrical foot


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem


A stanza made of four lines.

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure