MEDIA INQUIRIES/REVIEW COPIES: Marisa Atkinson,, Graywolf Press

“The language in Dilruba Ahmed’s admirable first collection scintillates. The notes it hits are delightfully unexpected. Weaving together innovative and traditional forms, Ahmed has chosen to illuminate experiences of Bangladesh and America that defy categorization, that illustrate the truth of being a woman in today’s world: global, hybrid, and ultimately alone.”
– Chitra Divakaruniauthor of One Amazing Thing

Dhaka Dust vividly presents the experience of the individual as the crossroads of different worlds, cultures, longings, even languages.  Dilruba Ahmed shows “each silver building shivering in its own height”–and each person, too.  The sheer openness of the book is inspiring and cheering: it gives a place to many places, and to families, fears, ages, and joys.  In our time of contested ideals, Dilruba Ahmed offers us an imagining of many cultures and peoples as being complementary to each other.  ”Will their stories vanish, too?” she writes–even while “someone always hungers / to enter the broken gate.”   When she writes of “the taste / of a new language,” we hear the difficulty of belonging to a world as rich in difference as a market is in goods, and we see afresh the necessity of imagining others compassionately, distinctly, and memorably.  Perhaps poets can only offer poems like “the man who stands / alone on cement islands, selling // newspapers to the wind.”  But this book has something to say that we need to hear, and it says it beautifully.”
– Reginald Gibbons, author of Creatures of a Day

“Dilruba Ahmed cherishes the physical world even as she investigates its “global predator” marketplace and erratic heart.  Ahmed manipulates voices through intimate personae in perfect pitch, and her visual work expands and contracts through mirrors, synesthesia, insomniac visions, and singular, indelible images.  This feels like the work of a far more mature poet for its acute sense of time, compressed and somehow comprehensible.  Cavafy comes to mind as Ahmed’s interiors populated by loved ones and holy strangers counterpoint a vast world offering us its careworn traces, from a Dhaka street to suburban Ohio’s “stuffy gyms that passed/for mosques.”  Ahmed questions everything, yet the book answers its own question “How can I sing of this?” with lyricism and truth.”
Judith Vollmer, author of Reactor

“Ahmed’s poems … radiate off each other in subtle and provocative ways. She embraces life in all its complexity and handles a variety of forms with originality and grace.”
– Arthur Sze, Bakeless Prize judge and author of The Ginkgo Light

“Dhaka Dust transports you into a world heart-wrenchingly infused with gorgeous metaphor and grace. It’s impossible to turn down a request for “…the taste of another’s prayer/ cool as a coin / newly minted on the tongue.” Dilruba Ahmed is a stunning talent, a “heart-thief” with “jasmine strands tangled at [her] neck.” This collection will burn brightly in your imagination for years to come. World, get ready for the loveliest of poetry debuts.”
– Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Lucky Fish

“‘It’s a complex fate, being an American,’ said Henry James of the undertow of a lost ancestral place, and Ahmed’s poems bear that out, in her intricate, cadenced chronicle of that complexity.  The tensile strength of her sensuous lines, spun of the finest delicacy of perception and feeling, reach across cultures, spanning the distances….”
– Eleanor Wilner, author of Tourist in Hell

“Ahmed knows how to employ metaphor with incredible grace.  A splendid first collection.”
– Kimiko Hahn, author of Toxic Flora: Poems

“On the surface, Dilruba Ahmed’s poems are rich and variegated. They spin like compass needles crowded around by magnetic fields, and they’d probably seem as exotic to a citizen of Dhaka as they would to a citizen of Duluth. In their depths, though, they seem anything but exotic, they seem to be our own impossible, loving, intimate, bereaved thoughts restored to us transformed and ennobled.”
– Vijay Seshadri, author of The Long Meadow

“Put Dhaka Dust on your must-have list this season.”
Rigoberto Gonzales

“Concise, clear, and blessed with common speech, these poems at their best fulfill William Carlos Williams’s precept “No idea but in things.” Ahmed is a promising poet who restores a sense of vivacity and freshness to our everyday experiences.”
Library Journal

“…Ahmed’s work, situated across the Midwestern United States, Bangladesh, and Europe, often occupies more than one space at the same time; it rebels against physical borders, conflating places in the imagination.”
Ploughshares Literary Magazine 

“What’s so promising about Dhaka Dust is precisely that Ahmed never evades our contemporary moment, taking on a globalizing, anxiety-stricken world while always focusing on the contradictory ways that her speakers live through them. Over the course of these poems, Ahmed subtly crafts the emotionally complex terrain that captures the sprawl and dislocation that shape our early 21st century psychology.”
Hyphen Magazine 

“Though she’s American, Ms. Ahmed makes it clear that she’s been honed and haunted by her ghost homeland, Bangladesh. But that knowledge offers small solace, only dual exile….”
–”Poets’ Visions of America From the Inside and Out,” The New York Times

Shelf Awareness for Readers

Dhaka Dust
Book cover JPG | PDF

Press kit PDF

One-page book flyer  v1 | v2

Dhaka Dust
selected for 2010 Bakeless Prize, Bread Loaf Writers Conference (Graywolf Press).

Dhaka Dust named one of six semifinalists for the Beatrice Hawley Award, Alice James Books.

Dhaka Dust named one of 18 semi-finalists for the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, BOA Editions.

Dhaka Dust named one of 20 semifinalists for the Dorset Prize, Tupelo Press.