Reviews and Reception

“What an outstanding collection of poetry. Some wonderful play with form in many of the poems. Learned a lot about Partition. These poems cover so much — identity, loss, brown girlhood, the complicated bonds of family, what home is when home is torn apart. Much to admire here. Will be thinking about these poems for a long time to come.”

Roxane Gay 


If They Come for Us was overwhelmingly positively received and named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library. Asghar’s success was helped by the increasing number of poets and authors from Southern Asia who are writing about their experiences of living in the United States and growing up (more information on further research). Reviews across publications and continents praise Asghar for combining a multitude of emotions and historical references while still maintaining an elegant and innovative writing style.

More Reviews 

If They Come for Us is one of the most unique collections in American poetry, consistently blending familiar techniques with hybrid forms and plays on tradition as it navigates vital conversations about identity politics”.

-Ronnie K. Stephens, The Los Angeles Review

“Elegant and playful…the poet invents new forms and updates classic ones”.

Elle Magazine

“If They Come for Us encompasses clear, compact free verse, ghazals (a kind of couplet with South Asian roots), a crown of sonnets and poems that imitate Mad Libs, glossaries, floor plans and crosswords, all set against the kinds of frustration and injustice, existential and political, that Asghar has seen or known.”

– Stephanie Burt, New York Times

“In forms both traditional . . . and unorthodox . . . Asghar interrogates divisions along lines of nationality, age, and gender, illuminating the forces by which identity is fixed or flexible. Most vivid and revelatory are pieces such as ‘Boy,’ whose perspicacious turns and irreverent idiom conjure the rich, jagged textures of a childhood shadowed by loss.”

-The New Yorker

“[Asghar’s] debut poetry collection cemented her status as one of the city’s greatest present-day poets. . . . A stunning work of art that tackles place, race, sexuality and violence. These poems—both personal and historical, both celebratory and aggrieved—are unquestionably powerful in a way that would doubtless make both Gwendolyn Brooks and Harriet Monroe proud.”

-Chicago Review of Books

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Grace McKenna ’19

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