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4.46  ·  Rating details ·  475 ratings  ·  42 reviews
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 comple ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Southern Illinois University Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  475 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Liz Janet
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-buy
“They tossed—
me—river—me—you want the splayed heart
of another’s hand clasping yours, to know
if cruelty exists, or if it is only love’s threadbare

In 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War occurred after Pakistani military committed war crimes against Bengali nationalist that wished to leave the then, East Pakistan. It was a horrendous time for people living in the area, thousands of innocents died, millions were internally displaced, millions fled to India, students
Sean Carman
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Faizullah's poems about the birangona –– Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the 1971 Liberation War for the independence of Bangaldesh –– are as urgent as they are beautiful. The collection is organized around Faizullah's trip to Bangaldesh to interview the birangona, a choice that gives the collection the dramatic tension of a narrative and presents the interviews poems as the dark heart of Faizullah's journey. The poems are also written like palimpsests over the subtext of Fa ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2016
Tarfia came to SLCC for an event. I heard her give a talk about researching and writing the poems in this collection. This collection has a strong narrative arc. Unlike many other collections I've read, I pretty much sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover.
The collection is quite compelling as it is about the systematic rape of women during war. She interviewed women and many of the poems are structured like interviews.
The collection is quite compelling, both on the level of the line,
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I would give this book a sixth star.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-re-read
I will be revisiting this book again soon. I bought it after seeing the author at a reading where she discussed her upcoming book. I knew I needed to read Seam.

I was blown away by her use of imagery, and the connections between the different definitions of "seam."

She shows us how things that are definitively not fabric are nonetheless more like fabric than I suspected. She pulls in the images of long, flowing saris, and the various textures that she encounters.

She also focuses on the role of bo
RH Walters
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It feels wrong to rate a book with disturbing subject like mass rape, but I read this book in one setting and what impressed me was the softness of the women, described so plainly in water and waiting and daughters and sisters, that the merest mention of violence was bruising. The violence of rejection from a grandfather as a woman smelled the pomade on his hair. This book opens your senses and makes you quiet and wonder.
Delia Rainey
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book really messed me up. I'm a huge Bhanu Kapil fan and Tarfia's work breaks me in similar ways. There is such a patience with the subject, imagery, complex interweaving of Tarfia’s identity and life, as she interviews the Birangona women who were raped and tortured by Pakistani soldiers in the 1971 war. These interviews come about slowly, each line carefully arranged with scene, smell, feeling. Tarfia gives these women a voice through interviews, and lets them speak their story, reclaimin ...more
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I am not a poetry person. However, I decided to expand my reading. This is the first actual book of poetry that I have read in about five years. I liked it, I did not love it, some poems were haunting and sad, some I did not understand, but overall I am glad that I took the time to read them. Her poetry is written for the people/specifically the women of East Pakistan the Bengali civilians. In 1971 West Pakistan launched a military operation--this resulted in the succession of East Pakistan whic ...more
Sara Sams
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poemz
"How do I love/ as much as I say I do?"
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Trigger warnings: this book often mentions child abuse, rape, dead bodies, genocide, murder, and trauma

First and foremost, the book was not written for people like me. I am extremely ignorant about this book’s contents, therefore, I am biased.

100% of these poems are about the Bangladesh genocide. This book is the first exposure I’ve ever had to the genocide. As someone whose family was not affected by it, I found it hard to understand the poems. But I understand that Seam is supposed to be melan
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book focuses on the Bangladeshi war for independence, a conflict with which I was not previously familiar, and it particularly focuses on the horrors committed against Bangladeshi women by Pakistani soldiers. Memory is one of the collection's underlying themes, as the first-generation-American-child-of-Bangladeshi-parents poetic speaker interviews female survivors of sexual violence during the conflict.

Seam is a heart-rending example of the difficulties (of incomplete recollections, of rec
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
On March 26, 1971, West Pakistan launched a military operation in East Pakistan against Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, and armed personnel who were demanding separation of the East from the West. The war resulted in secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh. According to Bangladeshi sources, two hundred thousand women were raped, and over 3 million people were killed.

Interview with a Birangona
All I knew was underground: bodies piled on bodies
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This collection covers very challenging subject matter as much of it relates to the Bangladesh Liberation War and the 1971 Bangladesh genocide. While I was somewhat familiar with the war, the genocide was a startling revelation (as unfortunately all too much of non-Western history is to me).

The imagery and the sounds of the words are very impactful, and often quite jarring. Due to the lack of exposure to modern poetry, some of the line phrasing was a bit difficult to me. I need to hear some of t
Matt Ely
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I appreciated the ability of the poet to balance multiple narratives that alternate and build on one another. Faizullah does what modern poets do best by indicting herself in unexpected ways in discussing the process of constructing her poetry, but that does not overwhelm the focus on seeking empathy with the crises of her family and communal heritage in Bangladesh. A lean, focused volume that builds on a core narrative without growing redundant through indefinite repetition of particular topic ...more
Brittney Scott
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I obviously loved the individual poems, but I'm even more impressed with the book's structure as a whole. "Seam" shows up in various manifestations throughout. It follows a clear narrative arch. The poems build and comment on one another.
Cody Stetzel
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Faizullah is profound. I imagine her other books are full of life and energy. I like that this book essentially functions as an open forum for one very particular voice, and she delivers this voice exquisitely.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Thought would be more trenchant and violent
M. Gaffney
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Devastating. A must read.
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
fucking amazing
Meg Gee
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. The kind of book that makes you want to know the author.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Seam is beautiful, eye-opening, haunting and absolutely harrowing.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Seam is an intense poetry collection that mixes history with personal relations. Going back to 1971 and the Liberation War in Bangladesh, Faizullah starts off her collection in a brutal – and honest – way, stating in her poem 1971 how two hundred thousand women were raped, and over three million people killed. At this point, I was taken aback by what I had just read. I did not know of the Bangladesh Liberation War, and will how many were killed and raped, I am shocked that this is the first time ...more
Arielle Hebert
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Faizullah weaves her own voice with texts she is reading and the voices of Birangona to create a chorus of intertextuality in this narrative. She uses point of view sometimes to proximate and sometimes to distance the reader at her will. Her poetry is language of the body, of the river, and it courageously faces a dark past to give strength to the memories and experiences of the Birangona, lest they be forgotten or repeated. Faizullah's work in Seam is a whole greater than the sum of its parts-- ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Faizullah's Seam explores the seam created by past history, trauma, family, and the security we wrap around ourselves in the present post. Through a series of interviews with rape victims of the 1971 liberation war in Bangladesh, Faizullah weaves a moving group of question/response poems in which she delicately and powerfully opens the experiences of the victims. Throughout the collection, the speaker inserts herself with honesty that is both unforgiving and bold, even often calling her own rhet ...more
Harry Allagree
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Commenting on her collection of poetry, Seam, the First Book Award in the Crab Orchard Series in poetry, Tarfia Faizullah says: “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.”

Her poetry is melodious, sa
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Seam is not light reading. I knew this before I opened the book, so I was expecting to be gut wrenched from the very beginning. Faizullah flipped these expectations by easing into her material. I really appreciated how she held the mundane regularity of life next to horrific events, war, murder, the rape of hundreds of thousands of women. She did not rub my nose in the horror--she rubbed my nose in the way I talk to my mom on the phone in the same hour that I learn about these horrors. This made ...more
Feb 16, 2015 added it
Shelves: poetry
In its movement between portraits of family members, poetic interpretations of interviews of women and raped in the partition of Pakistan, and self-interrogations of the interviewer--a sister, daughter, and granddaughter visiting Bangladesh from West Texas--Tarfia does amazing things. / And I'm saying this despite a total aversion to the "well-crafted" lyric narrative poem. / This is a drastically insufficient note.
Dannie Ray
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
While Faizullah definitely does some creative things in her book, I did not find myself invested. Most of her poems seemed relatively the same to me. While she deals with heavy subject matter and might just need to write many poems about the same subject to deal with it, I felt there could have been more variety, perhaps looking into different aspects of the same subject. She's definitely a talented poet, though.
Jennifer Saunders
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfa-reading-list
The sonnet cycle "Reading Celan at the Liberation War Museum" is extraordinary for the control Faizullah exerts over her material; how she destabilizes the form over a series of sonnets as if to reflect the speaker's internal state and then re-stabilizes the form by the final section; the smooth integration of Celan's lines into her own work; her delicate touch with explosive material. The entire collection is finely worked, but "Reading Celan..." is beyond first-rate.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
These poems of witness open the dark seams of the civil war in what was to become the country of Bangladesh. Exploring the fate of women who were raped during the conflict, Faizullah walks the thin, sharp edge between horror and beauty, peeling back both the hope and the despair of war's inheritance.
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Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam (SIU, 2014), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, New England Review, Washington Square, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project Award, a Ploughshares C ...more
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“Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito"

—at Apollo Hospital, Dhaka

Let me break
free of these lace-frail
lilac fingers disrobing
the black sky
from the windows of this
room, I sit helpless, waiting,
because you drew from me
the coil of red twine: loneliness—
spooled inside—
once, I wanted to say one
true thing, as in, I want more
in this life,
or, the sky is hurt, a blue vessel—
we pass through each other,
like weary
sweepers haunting through glass
doors, arcing across gray floors
faint trails
of dust we leave behind—he
touches my hand, waits for me
to clutch back
while mosquitoes rise like smoke
from this cold marble floor,
from altars,
seeking the blood still humming
in our unsaved bodies—he sighs,
I make a fist,
I kill this one leaving raw
kisses raised on our bare necks—
because I woke
alone in the myth of one life, I will
myself into another—how strange,
to witness
nameless, the tangled shape
our blood makes across us,
my open palm.”
More quotes…