Student profile: Asha Dore

Asha Dore

Student profile: Asha Dore

Graduate student Asha Dore will complete her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from EOU in June.

Pick up the new issue of the university’s award-winning publication, basalt: a journal of fine and literary arts, to read her lyric essay “Figure Studies,” nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

In her essay, Asha examines her daughter’s congenital condition, Arthrogryposis or “curved joints,” through the lenses of August Rodin’s sculpting of the human form and the clinical language of medical practitioners who have treated her.

Asha has published nearly a dozen works of creative nonfiction, a book review and several pieces of poetry since joining the MFA program.

She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Creative Nonfiction for “Making It Big” and her latest story, “Wild Things,” appeared in The Rumpus in the fall.

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Where did you grow up and where do you live now? 

Asha: I’m originally from Pensacola, Fla. I live outside of Portland, Ore. now.

What originally drew you to the genres of nonfiction and poetry? Which do you enjoy more? 

Asha: Before I was introduced to lyric nonfiction, I was told the poetry I wrote, often sequences of prose poems, was too long, and the fiction I wrote was too fragmented. Creative nonfiction was, at first, a site of permission to write in forms that felt authentic to me, using my life and my research as a resource. Now, I see it as an opportunity to build new truths out of the stories of our lives. I’m not sure how to distinguish that from poetry, or any other art, for that matter.

What is a source of inspiration for you? 

Asha: I’m thrilled by our bodies and art, particularly regarding the differences between the ways that we categorize or label each other, and the way we, within or despite our labels, experience the world.

You are also a visual artist. Are your paintings and illustrations connected to your writing? 

Asha: Absolutely, though I have spent more time studying and practicing writing than working academically with paint and pens. In “Ways of Seeing,” John Berger writes, “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” I am interested in what Berger calls a “relation,” though I might define it as an opening. When we’re looking at art, do we tell ourselves stories about the images? When we’re looking at each other, do we do something similar? There are openings between my body and an image, and there are openings between my body and your body, and whether or not we are conscious of it, we will fill that opening with words. 

What attracted you to EOU’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program? 

Asha: I sought an MFA initially because I want to teach, but my family’s schedule makes a full-time program difficult. EOU’s proximity to where I live, the beautiful drive between Portland and La Grande, and the opportunity to continue to study with Lidia Yuknavitch were the three aspects of the program at EOU that compelled me to apply.

Have you found both your passion and career as a writer?

Asha: It would be a real privilege to support my family via publications, editorial work and teaching, but I’m not there yet. Certainly there is passion, or a feeling of necessity, that brings me to the page.

You’ve published many pieces since joining the MFA program. Do you have any other recent or forthcoming works you’d like to mention?

Asha: I have turned toward completing a couple of manuscripts, so I haven’t submitted shorter works in months. I do have an essay about grief and skateboarding coming out in the next issue of Clackamas Literary Review

How have MFA faculty supported you throughout the process?

Asha: All of the faculty have supported and even sometimes championed my work, even though it doesn’t fit easily into one genre. I think that’s rare, but incredibly valuable, in an MFA program.

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> Learn more about EOU’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program!


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