Major: Creative Writing
School: Rutgers University at Newark
Sponsor: Ghulum and Arifa Azad Family
Message to Supporters: My name is Antonio Lopez. I am a poet, educator, and insha’Allah soon to be lawyer. I hope to apply to law school this fall to begin my future work with undocumented migrants. As a Latino Muslim, it is my personal commitment to re-shape the narratives of two marginalized peoples who—it can be safely said—are one of the most persecuted peoples in these United States at this current moment. God-willing, it is my hope to bridge these two groups with a dawah grounded in knowledge of the Qur’an, and the Spanish language.
This scholarship came at a perfect time for me. As I write this, I am taking a month-long Arabic intensive program at the Fawakih institute in Herndon, VA. While definitely difficult (even intimidating at times), Allah is making it easy. As a convert, I never heard the language growing up, but again, I hope to continue these studies over the next years to come.
In the academic year, I’ll be finishing my Masters (in Fine Arts) at Rutgers-University, where I hope to work on two bodies of work: Bajo La Otra Luna, a memoir on my upbringing and conversation, and Brown on Both Sides, a book of poems exploring the different facets of my ethnic and religious identity. I hope that it’ll touch many lives, if and when they are published.
A thousand thanks, and hope to hear from you. If not, I will be forever grateful.
Bio: Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Antonio Lopez received a double B.A. in Global Cultural Studies (Literature) and African-American studies from Duke University (Class of 2016). Since high school, Antonio’s believed in the power of language as a vehicle for social change, publishing a personal essay, “I Can Move Through World,” that explored the teenage trappings of being a working-class, first generation college-bound Mexican-American, especially within an affluent, predominately white prepatory.
At Duke, he sought to hone skills in writing, (public) speaking, and organizing. He’d become an inaugural John Lewis Fellow (Humanity in Action), a recipient of Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, among other honors. As eventual President of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc., he’d utilize the organization to advance social programs that addressed community issues—from machismo/Latinx sexuality, to black and brown labor, to LARP, an annual program which invites approximately 50 middle school students (of color) to the campus. Meanwhile, he’d frequently send letters to The Chronicle, the school’s newspaper. These letters to the editor tried to shed light on struggle of the Latinx student community at Duke, particularly during the 2015 fight for a cultural space. It was through this context, coupled with close relationships to Durham-based Muslims, that Antonio converted to Islam.
Since then, Antonio’s focused on further crafting his poetry, pursuing a Master in Fine Arts at Rutgers University-Newark. About to enter his 2nd year, Antonio hopes to use a poem to capture those unsung stories of brown folk, and beyond. He was a finalist for the 2017 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize. In 2017, he attended the Yale Writer’s Conference, the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, as well as have been awarded the Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship in order to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. His nonfiction has been featured in TeenInk, The Chronicle, PEN/America and his poetry in Gramma Press, Eclectica, Hispanecdotes, La Bloga, Acentos Review, Sinking City, What Rough Beast, By&By, Permafrost and Happy Hour Review.
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