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Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air:Growing Center to be Site for Poetry Anthology Launch

WHAT: Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air: In-Person Poetry Anthology Book Launch

WHEN: Friday, May 27, 4:00-5:00 pm

WHERE: Somerville Community Growing Center, 22 Vinal Ave., Somerville, MA

HOW: This event is free and open to all

The Somerville Community Growing Center will be the venue for the launch of a book of poetry on Friday, May 27. Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air, published by Beltway Editions, is an anthology of poetry written by six Muslim women who first met at MIT as undergraduates. An exploration of family, identity, and homeland, the book weaves together the common threads of its authors and their backgrounds.

Meet Afeefah, Aleena, Ayse, Maisha, Mariam, and Marwa. Among the many things these women have in common—being Muslim, children of immigrants, and females in STEM— it is their shared love for poetry that brings us Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air. As undergrads at MIT, they often gathered in dorm rooms to write and read aloud poetry. When the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly sent them to various corners of the world, they continued to write together over Zoom calls. In the midst of utter chaos, political instability, and loss, poetry was their grounding medium. Together the six crafted this poetry collection.

From the scents of a bustling street market in India to the warmth of stories rooted in Venezuela to snippets of college days shared at MIT, the poetry in this book features an ache for grounds no longer walked upon. With a range of distinct styles and voices, the poets’ nuanced self-expression amounts to a piece that is both a prayer and a rebellion. Their words, introspective and reminiscing, witty and thoughtful, are an ode to that which makes them who they are.

Simultaneously, their voices are a rejection of dangerous stigmas, cultural taboos, and oppressive systems. In both verse and image, Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air is a bold and unfiltered collection recounting moments, tears, and dreams that have been generations in the making.

Come meet the authors at their first in-person book launch at the Somerville Community Growing Center! More information on the anthology can be found at:

The full media kit for the book can be found here:



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