Half a decade ago, I met Ashley Inguanta. And by met, I mean I sat in the back of a class she was the teaching assistant for. I remember I thought she was striking. I remember long dark hair, a petite frame, and quiet grace. After that semester, I didn’t see her again for years until Jesse Bradley’s inaugural Clash of the Word Titans. In this local poetry vs. prose head-to-head competition, she aptly represented prose. This year, she presents Orlando with an offering of poetry. Her new book is titled Bomb. Inspired by the sudden absence of a remarkable woman in her life, Bomb is a “linked collection that explores the intricacies of two lovers.” Readers can expect to be pulled into a journey that leads to exquisite discovery.
Inguanta is exceptional at crafting journeys. She even hosts a reading series that takes participants on a literal literary journey. “This series is simple,” she explains. “We read poems and walk, ask questions, listen. We focus on the words; what made them.” The event is called in Honor of the Land. Inguanta leads locals through trails of Florida wilderness before authors present pieces. “My only hope for it is to help others reclaim a sacred space inside of themselves that, I believe, we can find in the land; in a natural landscape that is ancient.”
If you look at her long list of accolades and accomplishments, there seems to be a common thread connecting them. Inguanta works to share the power of words with others. “Writing has helped me navigate layered territories since I was about twelve. I am grateful for that,” she confides. Her gratitude reflects in her desire to teach. She has worked as a creative writing instructor at Lakeside Alternative, and for the past two years has collaborated with Raquel Henry at Writer’s Atelier to produce regular, healing writing and yoga workshops.
Inguanta’s investment in her art and community has not gone unnoticed. In 2013, she was included in a list of 6 Central Florida Poets to Know by Orlando Arts Magazine. Last year, she was awarded Best Poet in Orlando by the Orlando Weekly. She has also been a featured artist/writer in publications like Redivider, Bartleby Snopes, Functionally Literate Podcast, Everyday Fiction, The Great American Brainstorm, American Microreviews & Interviews, and New Books in Poetry.
Speaking of publishing, Inquanta has irons in the fire there, too. In 2012, she joined SmokeLong Quarterly as Art Director, a position she still holds. She’s now also a contributing editor at The Writing Disorder. She herself has had multiple collections of work published. The Way Home, a collection of poetry and prose, was produced by Dancing Girl Press in 2012. In 2014, Ampersand Books brought us For the Woman Alone, a work comprised of poetry and photographs. Ampersand Books did us another solid with her 2016 collection, Bomb. This book may be found at Bookmark It (located inside The Lovely and the Gallery at Avalon Island), as well as at Dead Beat Books (Mills50). You can also purchase it at one of the readings she has lined up. Readers can find Inguanta and Bomb on December 6th at 7pm in the Vinyl Arts Bar, and on December 20th for a 7pm reading at The District at Mills50.