Aisha Sharif is a Cave Canem fellow who resides in Shawnee, Kansas, a suburb that borders Kansas City, Missouri. And in many ways, much of her poetry and nonfiction addresses the politics of “bordering identities.” As an African American Muslim woman, her work explores how racial, gender, and religious identities align, separate, and blend. Her poem, “Why I Can Dance Down a Soul Train Line…” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. Aisha’s poetry has also appeared in Rattle, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, and Calyx. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Indiana University, Bloomington and her BA in English from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. She currently teaches English at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri.
Praise for To Keep From Undressing:
Muslim narratives, bodies, and lineages don't just matter; they make up the American fabric, both historic and contemporary, and woven within that fabric is a tradition rooted in the same ideals and morals and complications as all other American narratives. Sharif's poems deconstruct the hijab not for metaphoric purposes, or to serve as a simplified how-to manual for the unlearned. The hijab becomes a directional marker into the poet herself, wondering "how to truly unwrap myself." And what we find is the good work of poetry: desire, regret, mis-spoken languages, vulnerabilities. --F. Douglas Brown, author of ICON, and Zero to Three, winner of 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize
To Keep from Undressing, Aisha Sharif's timely debut collection, reveals the type of honesty that gets you uninvited to family reunions. Sharif requires honesty, not only of those she speaks of in her poems, but also of herself. The undressing comes from the wrestling with the truth of the discomfort but also the beauty of what we now call intersectionality but what has been long known as being a black woman in America -- a folding and unfolding, a combination of internalized faith, motherhood, men, family and unshakable identity. --Natasha Ria El-Scari, author of The Only Other