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Friday Feature: Aisha Sharif

Aisha Sharif is a Cave Canem fellow who resides in Overland Park, 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 originally from the south, her work explores how racial, gender, and religious identities align, separate, and blend. Her poem, “Vanna White Reconsiders Her Pact with Her Jinn” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and her poem “Why I Can Dance Down a Soul Train Line and Still be Muslim” was nominated in 2015. Aisha’s poetry has also appeared in Rattle, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, and Calyx. Her first book of poetry, To Keep From Undressing, was released by Spark Wheel Press in 2019. Aisha 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 and is a wife and a mother of two beautiful girls. Follow her online at her website.


And he it is who makes

The Night as a Robe

For you and Sleep as Repose

And makes the Day

(As it were) a Resurrection

- The Quran, Chapter 25, Verse 47

Undress, step in this basin of sleep.

Immerse your dreams in lavender sleep:

Honey, blueberry, mint ice-cream—

how we licked summer of its sleep!

The morning after, he rose as mercury—

quick to clean memory of our sleep.

I’ve prayed to wake a woman

of faith. This day, God has overslept.

The girl stared at blood-soured sheets.

What secrets would she fold asleep?

Here’s sunrise: orange-mouthed god

yawning himself from sleep.

Mary, lay your trust in the body.

Open palms, invite Him to sleep.


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Toi Derricotte, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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