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Ashia Ajani

storyteller. environmental educator. cultural preservationist.

Ashia is a storyteller and environmental educator born and raised in Denver, CO, unceded territory of the Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Ute peoples. Writing as a queer Black femme, Ashia works to preserve, interrogate and imagine how the Black diaspora has shaped and continues to shape land stewardship in the Western hemisphere.

Ashia has been published in Sierra Magazine,  Atlas&Alice Magazine, The Journal, Sage Magazine, Them.us, and The Hopper Literary Magazine, among others. Ashia released a first chapbook, We Bleed Like Mango, in October of 2017. Their debut full length poetry collection, Heirloom, will be published in Spring 2023 with Write Bloody Publishing.

Ashia’s debut full length poetry collection, Heirloom, will be published in Spring 2023 with Write Bloody Publishing

Currently booking Fall 2022 & Winter 2023

Seeking Opportunities for Writing Workshops, Poetry Performances, Conference Presentations

Workshops + Presentations

Myth Making & Environment: Creation, Destruction, Futurity

This workshop will use climate writing and art by members of the African Diaspora to inform young people’s own climate narratives. Climate change is one of the biggest sources of stress among young people; being able to write about our feelings and experiences with environmental harms allows for space to process these emotions and envision futures beyond harm. This workshop will use African and Caribbean mythology to analyze how different diasporic people have interpreted natural disasters and climate impacts for millennia, and what we can learn from these myths. Students will leave the workshops with written drafts, ancestral knowledge and environmental futures

Black Environmental Writing: Roots, Veins, Rhythm

The Black diaspora has a rich tradition of environmental writing, though oftentimes these themes are overlooked. This workshop will be an intermediate approach to Black eco-literature and its important contributions to environmental, social and climate justice. Participants will read literature by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Lucille Clifton, Thylias Moss and Nikky Finney to think about the ways in which the Black diaspora has both influenced and been influenced by the natural world. Participants will be encouraged to draw upon their own experiences and engagements with the natural world to generate shared knowledge about Black/nature relationships.

Storytelling Our Climate Futures:

Storytelling & Climate Futures hinges on the fact that storytelling brings us closer together. Stories reveal what is important, what our values are, what is worthy of preservation. Poetry has been revealed to increase empathy, and is an effective teaching tool, particularly when it comes to topics like climate change. Storytelling has been a cornerstone of the Black tradition since before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was (and still is) a way to harbor memory, pass on tradition from generation to generation, and honor the histories that make up Black life. We will be looking at a couple of climate themed poems by Indigenous and Black authors in order to build our own storytelling familiarity.

Testimonials

Ajani’s poems are tactile, textured, essential. Firmly wrought, they bear the weight of American history, the possibilities of hope, and the call for community. What a gift to spend time with this poet’s work.

— Donika Kelly, Reader for the Just Buffalo Poetry Fellowship

…the poet offers us a space to reclaim that freedom, to persist in our own making, in our small exodus, without naming our perpetrators; where, for a moment, we too can feel the cool air wrapped around our Black bodies—and feel free to exhale.

— Mahtem Shiferraw