Tarfia Faizullah, a Bangladeshi-American poet, editor, and educator, was born in 1980 in Brooklyn, NY and raised in west Texas. She received an MFA in poetry from Virginia Commonwealth University and is the author of Seam (SIU 2014), which United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey calls “beautiful and necessary, as well as Register of Eliminated Villages, (Graywolf 2017).
In reviewing Seam for Slate Magazine, Jonathan Farmer observes “There is poetry here: our living language pulled into shape by hunger and intelligence.” Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores the ethics of interviewing as well as the history of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the Liberation War of 1971. Tarfia received a Fulbright award to travel to Bangladesh and interview the birangona. Of her book, Tarfia has said, “I don’t believe that there is an art that can ever render something as unreasonable and as violent as human suffering. I tried to write a book that acknowledges the limitations of that rendering as much as it is helpless before those ‘images of the atrocious’ and the ways in which those images are forgotten even as they continue to haunt us.”
Tarfia’s honors and awards include a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, as well as scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, Bread Loaf, Kenyon Review, Sewanee, and Vermont Studio Center. Her poems appear in Poetry Magazine, Poetry Daily, Oxford American, Ploughshares, jubilat, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. Poems have also been anthologized in Best New Poets 2013 (Meridian), The Book of Scented Things (Rose O’Neill Literary House Press), Please Excuse this Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation (Viking/Penguin), and Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (University of Southern Carolina Press). Recent prose appears in LA Review of Books, Poetry Foundation, and Necessary Fiction.
Tarfia has collaborated with photographer Elizabeth Herman, emcee and producer Brooklyn Shanti, and composer Jacob Cooper, and has served as an editor for Blackbird, Asian American Literary Review, Four Way Review, Orison Books, and New England Review, and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press and Video Series with Jamaal May. She lives in Detroit, MI, and is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Poetry in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.