Tarfia Faizullah

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah was born in 1980 in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Midland, Texas. She received her M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and currently teaches poetry at the Art Institute of Chicago, following a stint at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program as the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor in Poetry. Her first book, Seam (2014), is focused around a long sequence, “Interview with a Birangona,” which 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. Faizullah received a Fulbright award to travel to Bangladesh and interview the birangona. Of her book, Faizullah 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.” Seam won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, a VIDA Award, a GLCA New Writers’ Award, a Milton Kessler First Book Award, Drake University Emerging Writer Award, and other honors.

Tarfia’s second collection, Registers of Illuminated Villages, will appear from Graywolf Press in Mary 2018. Her poems are published widely in periodicals and anthologies both in the United States and abroad, are translated into Persian, Chinese, Bengali, Tamil, and Spanish, have been featured at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere, and are the recipients of multiple awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry, and other honors.

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, New England Review, Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press, and most recently, an issue of Poetry Magazine, guest-edited with Lawrence Minh-Bui Davis and Timothy Yu. She has been invited to present her work at the Library of Congress, the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Radcliffe Seminars at Harvard University, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and elsewhere. In 2016, she was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change.