Essays    Reportage    Marginalia    Interviews    Poetry    Fiction    Videos    Everything   
AAWW at Home with Nadia Q. Ahmad

The East Elmhurst-based poet and editor on Ada Limón’s “Instructions on Not Giving Up” and supporting Laal NYC

May 26, 2020

In this special installment of AAWW at Home, poet, writer, and editor Nadia Q. Ahmad comes to us from East Elmhurst, Queens to tell us about the AAWW event she’ll be reading at this Thursday, May 28, which is also a fundraiser for Laal NYC, an organization supporting Bangladeshi women in the Bronx. Nadia closes with a reading of Ada Limón’s “Instructions on Not Giving Up.”

This Thursday, May 28, Nadia will join Tarfia Faizullah and Samira Sadeque on our virtual stage for a poetry reading and fundraiser for Laal NYC. Find out how you can tune in here.

Click here to donate to Laal’s Covid fund:


The following is a transcript of the video above.

Hi everybody! My name is Nadia Q. Ahmad and I’m really excited to be doing this collaboration with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop on this installment of AAWW at Home. 

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is dedicated to providing an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of race, migration, and social justice. It supports emerging and established Asian American writers through its reading series and writing workshops, and its online platforms, The Margins and Open City. 

I’m speaking to you today from my home in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York City. I’m in the part of my home where I work, and more specifically, where I stare at a blank page and feel very nervous about how to fill it. I think a lot of those feelings of nervousness and uncertainty bleed into our everyday lives these days in the face of this pandemic, and as someone who does have the privilege of having a job that allows me to safely work from home, I do ask myself regularly, “What can do to help? How can I support?”

One of the organizations that I’d like to help uplift today, that is doing work on the frontlines, is called Laal NYC. It’s a Bronx-based organization that helps Bangladeshi women find the support and resources they need to live healthy, engaged, and joyful lives. During COVID-19, they are fundraising for relief efforts to provide direct cash aid for families in their community, as well as to provide staple groceries to those families. 

The AAWW is collaborating with Laal NYC to host a poetry reading this Thursday, May 28, at 7pm Eastern. The folks who will be participating in that reading are myself, as well as writers Tarfia Faizullah and Samira Sadeque. So I hope you can join us in supporting that cause next week. 

One of the poems that I’ve often looked to for encouragement––even before all of this started, but especially now––has been Ada Limón’s “Instructions on Not Giving Up.” So I will read that for you now. 

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.


I hope that you can join myself, Tarfia Faizullah, and Samira Sadeque, again, next Thursday at 7pm Eastern. For more information on how to donate to Laal NYC and to tune in to the event, head to

Until then, I hope that you, in the best way possible, can stay safe, and be well –– and I will see you soon. Ok, bye.