Thursday, September 08, 2011

Poetic Profile: Dilruba Ahmed

1) How would you describe your poetry?
That's a tough question!  Many of the poems in my first book deal with a familial and cultural history marked by rifts in place and time.  Some are narrative, some are more lyrical.  I write in free verse and use given forms at times, too.

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

The way that poetry fits into my everyday life varies from week to week--reading and writing poetry is essential, of course, and I try to do as much of that as possible!  I also enjoy attending readings and talking shop with friends who are writers.  I also recently began teaching a poetry workshop, which has been fantastic and is teaching me ways to read my work and that of others more deeply.

3) What poets and/or authors inspire you?

There are many to name!  Agha Shahid Ali, Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Gluck, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Theodore Roethke....

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

I'm relatively new to the area, so it's been fun getting know the city.  My parents, who are from Bangladesh, lived in Philadelphia for many years when they first moved to the U.S., so we have a good deal of family history here.  I grew up in other parts of the state and in Ohio, but because of that history (and the fact that I was born here!), Philadelphia feels like a place with important roots for me. 

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community a little about it.

I recently read WAIT by Alison Stine, which is a wonderful book--dark and powerful, disturbing and lovely.  Stine's poems build mystery by revealing and withholding--by complicating a story while telling it.  Her collection was the winner of the 2011 Brittingham Prize run by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Dilruba Ahmed is the author of Dhaka Dust (Graywolf, July 2011), winner of the 2010 Bakeless Literary Prize for poetry, selected by Arthur Sze and awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Ahmed’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City Review, New England Review, New Orleans Review, Drunken Boat, and The Normal School. Her work also appears in Indivisible: Contemporary South Asian American Poetry. A writer, editor, and educator with roots in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Bangladesh, Ahmed holds BPhil and MAT degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Dilruba Ahmed and Bonnie MacAllister will be reading this Friday, September 9, 2011, at 7:00pm. Please come check them out!

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