A Ashley is a Black, aro/ace, neurodivergent writer from Orlando, Florida with and MFA from the University of Central Florida. She primarily writes poetry and essays that explore the minority and queer experience. These works discuss the effects of emotional abuse, alienation, and invisible physical and mental illness. Her work is forthcoming in Capable Magazine and can be found in AZE Journal and The Offing.
A Ashley's current focus is TWO-NESS, a cross-genre poetry and essay collection whose speaker explores topics of identity, racial injustice, mental health, and emotional abuse, while also tackling the speaker’s chronic physical illness. The collection seeks to discuss discomfort in all its forms with increasingly intimate and personal detail.
Structured by theme, the manuscript ventures first into race, before delving into greater identity issues that intersect with sexism and the speaker’s sexual identity, finally alighting on the speaker’s health as it intersects with her upbringing. In poems like “On God,” and essays including “Naming Conventions of the Mid Life Jamaican,” the speaker considers how her familial relationships have informed her identity, driven her self-destructive behavior, and ultimately armed her to contend with bigoted practices in her personal and professional life outside of the home.
In poems like “My Best Friend’s White Guilt,” “imma be real,” and “I Said What I Said,” the speaker interrogates her own Blackness and her alternating complicity in, complacency with, and pushback against bigoted systems that seek to exclude and suppress minority voices. With a greater focus on non-white identities coming forth in the media, these pieces seek to emphasize the flawed complexity of the individual Black woman for her own sake—not just for her entertainment value to society.
Poems like “immolate,” “A Fine Merlot,” and “Elegy for St. Gertrude” illustrate feminine vulnerability as created by patriarchal hierarchy, rail against this phenomenon with incisive language that seeks to weaponize the female body as that which consumes rather than is consumed, and validate the emotional vulnerability commonly associated with the feminine.