Seam

Seam

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Author: Tarfia Faizullah 

Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press (2014)

The poems in this captivating collection weave beauty with violence, the personal with the historic as they recount the harrowing experiences of the two hundred thousand female victims of rape and torture at the hands of the Pakistani army during the 1971 Liberation War. As the child of Bangladeshi immigrants, the poet in turn explores her own losses, as well as the complexities of bearing witness to the atrocities these war heroines endured.

Throughout the volume, the narrator endeavors to bridge generational and cultural gaps even as the victims recount the horror of grief and personal loss. As we read, we discover the profound yet fragile seam that unites the fields, rivers, and prisons of the 1971 war with the poet’s modern-day hotel, or the tragic death of a loved one with the holocaust of a nation.

Moving from West Texas to Dubai, from Virginia to remote villages in Bangladesh and back again, the narrator calls on the legacies of Willa Cather, César Vallejo, Tomas Tranströmer, and Paul Celan to give voice to the voiceless. Fierce yet loving, devastating and magical at once, Seam is a testament to the lingering potency of memory and the bravery of a nation’s victims.

"Why call any of it back? Tarfia Faizullah asks in her gorgeous and powerful debut collection, Seam. In poems made more harrowing for what's not said—the poet's elegant and wise restraint—we confront the past and its aftermath in the lives of women interrupted by violence and brutality and loss. It wasn't enough light to see clearly by, she tells us, but I still turned my face toward it. Faizullah is a poet of brave and unflinching vision and Seam is a beautiful and necessary book."

–Natasha Trethewey