Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems appear in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, New England Review, Washington Square, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, she received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project Award, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Sewanee Writers’ Conference, fellowships from the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop and Vermont Studio Center, and other honors.
Statement of Poetics
As an American
born child of parents who immigrated from Bangladesh, I’m no stranger to the
idea of memory as palimpsest. Lately I have been reconsidering Edward Said’s
notion of history as something that can be “unmade and rewritten, always with
various silences and elisions, always with shapes imposed and disfigurements
However, it is this notion of disfigurement that I’m most fascinated by. I’m deeply interested in and troubled by how colonialism both here and abroad has permeated an emphasis on viewing ourselves as singular identities despite each of our myriad histories. My most recent and current projects interrogate the distinctions and intersections between voyeurism and witnessing, privilege and achievement, and grief and longing.
“Could anyone describe this?” asks the woman in Anna Akhmatova’s long poem “Requiem.” It is a question I have asked myself often, and every poem I write is an attempt to answer that question. I return often to Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving into the Wreck,” which so beautifully expresses why I continue to believe poetry has the potential to do the opposite of exploiting complexity—it can, instead, enact and interrogate it further. “The words are purposes./The words are maps./I came to see the damage that was done/and the treasures that prevail.”
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